Repeat: Off The Ball

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Repeat: Off The Ball

"My father always told me that football was a lot better in his day"

After a year of uncertainty, Donegal's Ryan McHugh is looking forward to the knockout format in t...


"My father always told me that football was a lot better in his day"

After a year of uncertainty, Donegal's Ryan McHugh is looking forward to the knockout format in the upcoming All-Ireland Football Championship - even if he wouldn't want it every season. 

As Donegal prepare for decisive league games against Tyrone and Kerry in the coming weeks, the promise of a second game against Mickey Harte's men in the Ulster Championship looms largest of all.

In unusual circumstances, the loser of that monumental clash will be eliminated outright from this year's restructured championship.

"It’s going to be massive," remarked Ryan McHugh, speaking at an OTB Sports GAA Roadshow in association with SuperValu. "I think there’s a real buzz around both counties that it’s just do-or-die football.

"You have to be at your best on that day or else you’re going to be out."

In conversation with Galway forward Damien Comer and Kerry legend Kieran Donaghy, McHugh admitted that he is somewhat looking forward to the intensity such a format guarantees, nevertheless.

"Change can be good sometimes," he suggested, "[and while] I’m not saying we should keep this format in the long-term, I’m really looking forward to seeing how it works."

"My father at home always told me anyway that football was a lot better in his day."

Kerry GAA legend Donaghy also gave his thoughts on the format of this year's championship and what the change in format may bring about.

"In this kind of knockout championship, anything can happen," he said. "There’s just so much riding on every decision that is being made. For example, a red card is huge now.

"It used to mean a player would miss a game [but] they could get back into the championship. It’s going to be a case now where a red card could cost your teammates their season.

"I’m glad that they kept the league games in for that reason because I think it’s important that the guys get to the pitch of it and they get a feel for what it’s going to be like before the championship starts."

Overall, Ryan McHugh is just looking forward to playing matches again after periods when he wondered if there would be any matches at all this year.

"It’s what you want as a player, it’s just loads and loads of games," he said.

"You can train all you want but it’s games that you want to be playing and we’re getting the chance to play week in week out from now on.

"For a while during the summer it looked like we might not get any football so I think the GAA deserve huge credit to have run a very good club championship and now looking like they’re going to run an inter-county championship.

"It’s great, we’re really looking forward to it."

Ryan McHugh

As for the argument that Dublin will be vulnerable this year, McHugh says that Donegal's focus is very much on Tyrone.

"We’re definitely not looking at Dublin at the minute," he said. "We have three massive matches coming up and two of them are against Tyrone."

Donegal's Ryan McHugh was speaking to OTB Sports at our remote GAA Roadshow in association with SuperValu. Catch the full interview with Ryan and Galway's Damien Comer and much, much more across OTB's social channels in the days ahead.

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All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Donegal Football Championship GAA Kieran Donaghy Ryan Mchugh Tyrone Ulster Ulster Football Ulster Football Championship