How quickly the summer can turn back in your favour? The win against Laois has put Donegal back on track in the defence of their crown.
There are still many question marks but they couldn’t have got a better draw than Mayo in the quarter-final. They have a 100% record in championship against the Connacht side who are the great unknown quantity of the 2013 championship.
Donegal put a lot of eggs in the Tyrone basket at the start of the year and they came out on the right side. However, since then the Donegal of old with their running game has disappeared. There were signs of its return on Sunday last with Frank McGlynn and the McGees, but we will need to see much more of that on Sunday next in Croker.
Paddy McGrath, too, was closer to his best in a marking role while Patrick McBrearty looks ready to explode, such was his willingness to work. It will be important that he gets the opportunity to take on the Mayo defence on Sunday.
The question marks relate mainly to the Donegal half-forward line, which has failed to function with any degree of effectiveness.
Against a Mayo side that will want to run at Donegal, it will be important for the Donegal half-forward line, not just to defend, but to add something to the Donegal attack.
We will need Michael Murphy back to his best also as he has been struggling to find his ‘A’ game and Sunday would be a good time to rediscover it.
Ryan McHugh gives Donegal an added injection and his tackling and workrate as well as his natural footballing ability is a great plus to the squad..
This week is now the most important one for the present squad of players. This time last year we were travelling to Croke Park to take on Kerry in optimistic rather than confident mood. Donegal produced the goods and it will take a similar 20-man effort on Sunday if they are to remain in the championship.
Mayo are the great unknown quantity of 2013. They have had it much their own way in Connacht. There were stories of a ‘no holds barred’ challenge match behind closed doors against Monaghan prior to the Ulster final with Monaghan coming out on top.
I’m sure Jim McGuinness would like a video of that game for his pre-match analysis. However, he knows what Mayo will bring. He needs to curb Kevin McLoughlin and Alan Dillon, who are the creative elements of the side. He also needs to make sure that his forwards do not allow the nippy Mayo defenders get on the front foot, the likes of Keith Higgins, who are impossible to stop when in full flight.
The Westerners have Andy Moran back from injury and they genuinely feel it is payback time for last year’s All-Ireland defeat.
Everything seems to be in their favour but Donegal are not All-Ireland champions for nothing. It took months and months of hard slog to win that title and they will not want to give it up lightly.
Go get them, again!