Peter Naughton passed away in March following a short illness and the scheduled Lidl NFL Division 1 fixture with Mayo was postponed as a result. When the game was eventually played, it was Donegal’s last tie of the group campaign, and a 4-13 to 2-11 victory in Convoy secured top spot for Naughton’s impressive charges. That result meant so much to Sligo native Naughton, who believes that Donegal will carry an “extra angel” with them to Parnell Park on Sunday, for a League final clash with holders Cork.
And Naughton outlined how football has provided him with therapy as he works his way through his grief.
Naughton said: “I did lose my brother after a short illness. It gets you out, it’s a distraction with the girls. It gets your mind out of things. You lose your brother and you never get away from that, when you go back home to the house. But football is huge for the mind and for the soul, and to keep you going. The game against Mayo, that was the game that was called off for my brother’s funeral.
“That game meant so much to me, words couldn’t describe (how much it meant) to beat Mayo that day. It brings a lot of emotion, it brings a lot of passion. You’re always saying you have an extra angel there.
“That’s what we feel, he’s looking down and praying for us. Hopefully, he’s looking down on us on Sunday. I believe in my faith and it’s very important to me.
“I’d always look to my family that passed, my Mum, my Dad, my sister Sheila and now Peter. I pray to them the day before a match, and always look to them to be there with you on the sideline. It’s willpower and your faith that carries you at times like that. It gives you good strength to go on, and, please God, it works out for us on Sunday as well.”
Donegal are 9-4 outsiders against all-conquering Cork but with Naughton at the helm, and free-scoring forwards Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle leading the charge, hopes are high the Ulster outfit could prevail in their vrry first top-flight decider.
And a bullish Naughton added: “It’s a huge honour for this Donegal team but let nobody be under any mistake we’re coming to Dublin for the day out, we’re coming up with the ambition to take home a Division 1 trophy.”
Cork have named seven league final debutants in their side to take on Donegal in Parnell Park.
Among those making their debuts for Cork will be Inch Rovers Jess O’Shea, Beara’s Niamh Cotter, Doheny’s Melissa Duggan, Bantry’s Emma Spillane, St Colum’s Libby Coppinger, Mourneabbey’s Brid O’Sullivan, and Eire Og’s Eimear Scally.
M O’Brien; M Ambrose, R Phelan, E Spillane; M Duggan, B Stack, S Kelly; N Cotter, J O’Shea; L Coppinger, B O’Sullivan, O Farmer; E Scally, D O’Sullivan, O’Finn.