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Whelan & Cooper Unsure If Ulster Final Approach Bodes Well For Derry & Donegal

Whelan & Cooper Unsure If Ulster Final Approach Bodes Well For Derry & Donegal
By Gary Connaughton Updated

Yesterday's Ulster final was a fantastic occasion for Derry. Without a provincial title since 1998, they would upset the odds by beating Donegal after extra-time in Clones.

It was certainly a testament to how much the team has improved over the last year or so. Rory Gallagher has gotten his players to buy into a certain style of play, one that that has helped them to close the gap with the top teams in their own province.

While the people of Derry are unlikely to care too much, it should be pointed out that yesterday's game was difficult to watch at times. Neither team showed too much attacking intent, being happy to sit behind the ball and let the opposition play the ball around out the pitch without much pressure being placed upon them.

Derry's approach is understandable when you consider that they are the ones attempting to play catch up with other counties, although it was very disappointing to see such an apparent lack of ambition from a very experienced Donegal side.

After a period in which there was a switch towards more attacking football at inter-county level, this year's Ulster final did feel like a step back towards the type of football which was the norm around a decade ago.

The Sunday Game panel on Ulster final spectacle

Speaking on The Sunday Game, Ciaran Whelan said that the game was reminiscent of what we would have expected to see from Donegal in the early days under Jim McGuinness. Colm Cooper also said that while the Ulster championship is very competitive, the risk averse approach taken by man of the teams involved doesn't necessarily help them later in the season.

Whelan: It's like we're going back to the future to a certain degree. Back in 2012, Donegal played a similar style of football where they dictated the terms of the game.

They sucked everybody in and won a brilliant All-Ireland, so the people of Derry won't care tonight and will be delighted.

Cooper: I think sometimes we get lured into the Ulster championship, about how competitive it is and how fierce it is up there. But there's not at all times is there a quality match on view.

I think sometimes the way the teams set up up there, it doesn't translate well to later in the championship. That's why it'll be interesting to see first of all how Donegal recover, but also if Derry get to Croke Park how that game will evolve for them.

Whelan: People will be critical that Donegal didn't go for it, that they didn't inject pace, get runners on the ball and go at Derry, risk a couple of turnover and try and create something. They got themselves back into the game and you felt they could have kicked on.

Once it got to extra-time, Donegal were out on their feet and Derry had that bank of fitness that they built up.

Derry will now prepare for an All-Ireland quarter-final, while Donegal will face into a potentially perilous route through the qualifiers.

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It will be interesting to see if the approach from either team evolves over the remainder of 2022.

SEE ALSO: Canavan And Harte Hail Derry's 'Unsung Hero' After Ulster Final Win


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