GAA Digest: Fearless Dongeal are back in the All-Ireland finals
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Mark McHugh is ready to follow in his father’s famous footsteps and bring the Sam Maguire back to Donegal – once he recovers from Sunday’s famous semi-final win over Cork.
Donegal will meet Mayo or champions Dublin in the All-Ireland decider after an inspired and deserved 0-16 to 1-11 win over the Rebels last weekend.
McHugh was one of the stars of the show as Donegal returned to the All-Ireland final for the first time since his dad Martin and current team boss Jim McGuinness tasted ultimate glory in 1992.
And the delighted youngster could barely walk or talk as he spoke to the media in the Donegal dressingroom after the win over Cork.
McHugh stated, “I had a job to do today and I was thinking about how I could play best for the team, but it was very tiring.
“I went down with cramp in my two calves. I couldn’t even walk, but otherwise I am just delighted. I could not play my normal role today, but it all worked out well for us and we will just have to up it again for Dublin, or whoever it is.
“We have come through a tough section. We focused on Kerry and then on Cork and although we gave the Donegal supporters a bit of a scare out there towards the end, we got through.
“And we had a bit of luck when they hit the crossbar, but we didn’t get much luck in the draw so we will take that bit of luck alright.”
Looking ahead to the final, McHugh added, “We now have a chance to make the people of Donegal feel as good as they did back in 1992 and that is an extra incentive.
“Our focus is now totally on the final and we will know our opponents fairly shortly. We now know we are up there with the best and whoever it is, Dublin or Mayo, we are going to out there and give it one hell of a shot.”
Donegal boss McGuinness paid tribute to the huge support that followed his team to Croke Park – including world famous singer Daniel O’Donnell.
“When we stared out on the journey in the middle of May up in Breffni Park, it was a long way to the All-Ireland final, and to be there now is fantastic really for this group of players,” said McGuinness.
“Last year, we tried to put a framework in place that we could help the boys to achieve things in the game and we tried to build that over the winter. I think the supporters understand that and they understand what we’re trying to do.”
“The boys have a great relationship with the supporters as well, and the kids and everything else.
“It’s a great shot in the arm for Donegal football to be honest with you. We just hope now that the synergy that it creates, there will be a Michael Murphy, or a Colm McFadden, or a Rory Kavanagh in the offing in a few years’ time as a result of it.
“A huge challenge regardless who we play, but at the same time we would hope that with all the work we’ve put in and the amount of games we’ve played this year that we can see the thing out now, but I suppose that’s for another day.”
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