Shaun Paul Barrett
Donegal Minors are in good shape and ready for Antrim, Donegal manager, Shaun Paul Barrett, insisted last week.
After a poor start to the season, Donegal, who had won the previous three Ulster Minor Leagues outright, only picked up one point from their opening three games in the league.
The point was an opening day draw against Fermanagh, which was followed by away defeats to Tyrone and at home against Derry.
However, it was against Derry, with practically a whole new team from last year that showed they were beginning to come together as a team.
Donegal trailed Derry by ten points at half-time (0-14 to 0-4) in Sean MacCumhaill Park.
But a much improved second half performance finally saw the locals find some form. They outscored the Oak Leafers by 2-9 to 0-7 in the second 30 minutes before losing by two points.
Aaron Doherty and Oisin Gallen scored the goals as Donegal drew level twice before the Oak Leafers pulled away again in injury time to win by two, 0-21 to 2-13.
“That second half performance against Derry gave the lads great belief,” said the Donegal boss, who is in his second year as minor manager.
“We would not have been happy with the first half performance but the second half display gave the lads great belief
“That was the first game when we began to jell as a team.
“But that was understandable. We have only five survivors from last year, nine U-16s from 2016 and the rest are U-17s from last year. It is a completely new team,” said Barrett.
Peadar Mogan, Aaron Deeney, Brian O’Donnell, Ronan Docherty and Jack Flannery are the only survivors from last year’s minor squad Ulster double winning squad.
early in the year.
The manager has also taken great solace from their second half performance against Sunday’s opponents Antrim, also in the league, in O’Donnell Park.
Donegal were poor in the opening half and were behind 2-4 to 1-1 at the break. But a good second half performance produced a two point win 2-13 to a 3-8 win for the hosts.
Donegal then went on to overcome Down and Armagh to win the Ulster Minor Shield.
“They hadn’t played as a group before this year but they are starting to jell,” explained the Donegal boss.
“We made no secret of it that we were looking to build a team in the league for the championship.”
“It has always been about being ready for Sunday, and having the best players in the best position and working out which is our best team.”
Antrim defeated Fermanagh and as well as running Donegal to two points, they ran Derry to one.
They are a decent team and as their first half performance showed, they have a number of quality forwards.
They hit three goals against Donegal and were a little unlucky not to win that tie in O’Donnell Park, a fact that is not lost on the Donegal management.
“They have a few players that played in the MacRory Cup team particularly Liam Quinn was playing for Magherafelt, probably their best forward.”
Donegal, other than Michael Mulhern, out for the year with a cruciate injury, have no major injury worries.
The Donegal team is expected to be announced later in the week.