Saturday 7 December 2019

Donegal to splash out on luxury Lough Erne 'final camp'

McGuinness takes squad to Lough Erne resort for five-day fine-tuning of All-Ireland preparation

Neil McGee, Donegal at the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Donegal v Armagh, Croke Park, Dublin. At the weekend press event, full-back Niall McGee was promoting the benefits of going into camp prior to big games:
Neil McGee, Donegal at the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Donegal v Armagh, Croke Park, Dublin. At the weekend press event, full-back Niall McGee was promoting the benefits of going into camp prior to big games: "You are more or less living with the team, getting proper recovery and eating the right foods. You nail it perfectly" (Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE)
Donegal players, from left, Martin McElhinney, Patrick McBrearty, Colm McFadden, Neil McGee, Michael Murphy, Luke Keaney and Anthony Thompson, celebrate after the game. Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final, Donegal v Monaghan, St Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan (Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE)
Nick Faldo during the review of the Lough Erne Golf Resort project. The golf resort, designed by Nick Faldo, features a spectactular 18 hole championship golf course. As a high-end venue, it played host to some of the world's top political leaders, including President Obama, during the G8 summit last summer (Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE)

Declan Bogue

Donegal are leaving no stone unturned with their All-Ireland final preparations with another five-day training camp planned for this week.

Arrangements have been made to stay for five nights at the exclusive Lough Erne Golf Resort in neighbouring Fermanagh, just two weeks after a similar camp in Johnstown House, Enfield, Co Meath prior to the All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin where, it's understood, they got through much of their tactical planning.

With a party of over 40 players and backroom staff, the costs could be in the region of €20,000 but Donegal are known to have significant backers, at home and overseas, who have helped them cover the costs of similar ventures.

Only last week three of their Dublin-based players travelled to training in Ballybofey by helicopter.

It is a measure of the professional nature of their preparations that Donegal have been able to embark on such a camp once again.

Earlier this year, the squad and management took in a week of warm-weather training in Portugal prior to the Division 2 league final.

The Lough Erne venue has no football fields available to Donegal, but they could host their training sessions in local club facilities.

Located a few miles outside Enniskillen towards the Donegal border, the resort is a high-end venue that hosted the G8 summit last summer.

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This latest trip of Donegal will come as a surprise, given the length of time Donegal have spent 'in camp' this season. Kerry were also in Portugal, visiting the Amendoeira Golf Resort at the same time and have held four warm-weather training camps there since 2010. They regularly travel to the Fota Island resort outside Cork on the weekend before a major game.

At their weekend pre-All-Ireland final press event, full-back Neil McGee was promoting the benefits of going into camp prior to big games. "You are more or less living with the team, getting proper recovery and eating the right foods. You nail it perfectly," said the defender.

Asked about the benefit of the five intensive days of preparation for the Dublin match in Johnstown House, McGee answered: "There's been a lot made about the five days, but we could prepare like that for every game, the Dubs are no exception. Five days was maybe a day or two extra, but we seen it as a massive task, it was a task we knew we could do, but we had to have the right work done."

"We can only prepare how we can prepare. We can't factor in what they are going to do. We can just prepare our own team, whatever happens during the game we have to adapt and be ready for every scenario.

"We will get away now this week and boys will get assigned to who they will keep tabs on and whatnot. It gives us a while to prepare for it and a while to study for it."

The Gweedore clubman admits he thrives in that environment, having been part of the International Rules travelling squad. "It is enjoyable," he said and he added: "If you have to find any quality at all, you will find it in those few days. When you have a bit of extra work to do, that's when you can do it, or if you need a wee break, it's ideal."

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