Donegal’s motto this weekend as they face into their second Allianz Hurling League final is: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again’.
Almost 12 months to the weekend to losing last year’s Division 3A final to Fingal, Ray Durack and his men are back in another 3A decider. This time Roscommon will provide the opposition with Markievicz Park in Sligo the venue, throw-in 2 pm.
Donegal had an off day in last year’s decider when going down 1-9 to 1-5 against the North Dublin outfit, in Kingspan Breffni Park.
“I have told the boys that it takes a good team to bounce back after losing a final. But they have done that and are now looking forward to going one better this year,” Donegal boss Ray Durack told the Democrat.
However, the Donegal boss insisted it is not a case of making up for the disappointment of losing last year’s final. It is more a case of slaying the ghost of last month’s 3-11 to 0-15 defeat to Sunday’s opponents , down in Roscommon, in round three of the current campaign.
“We were very poor against Roscommon that day. We gave away three sloppy goals and never got into the game at all. The game was in Athleague and it is a tight pitch. We rarely play well down there. We are a running team and like to play the game at pace and I feel Markievicz Park is more suited to our style of game.”
Donegal and Roscommon are no strangers in recent seasons and in the last year alone they have met three times. As well as last month’s league encounter which Roscommon won 3-11 to 0-15, they have also met twice in the Nicky Rackard Championship inside the last 12 months.
Lee Henderson posted 0-10, Paddy Hannigan hit 2-1, Sean McVeigh, 1-1, Danny Cullen, 0-3, Ciaran Mathewson and Stephen Boyle, 0-2 each and Joe Boyle 0-1, as Donegal defeated the Rossies 3-20 to 3-16, in last July’s Nicky Rackard Cup final in Croke Park.
That was Donegal’s second victory over the Shannonsiders in the Nicky Rackard campaign. In round two, they emerged 1-16 to 0-16 winners in fortress Athleague.
After wins over Fermanagh, Longford, Monaghan, Donegal clinched their place in this year’s final with a 2-15 to 1-15 away victory over Louth.
Danny Cullen (hamstring) Lee Henderson (‘flu), Christopher McDermott (minor knock) and Ronan McDermott (calf) all missed the Louth game.
But all are expected to be back for Sunday’s showdown.
“Ronan is the only concern really; we will monitor him over the next few days. We are hopeful that he will be fit but with the rest of the boys all have recovered and we are hopeful that Ronan will be fit to play. If he is, we expect to have a fully fit squad to select from.”
Durack confirmed that he is going to give the Burt man every opportunity to prove his fitness and he is not expected to finalise his team until after training tomorrow night, Friday.
Meanwhile, Roscommon will be without their marquee forward and scorer-in-chief Gerry Fallon. Fallon scored 2-9 out of 3-16, in the Nicky Rackard final. He also hit 0-9 when they sides last met. He will miss the final through suspension after receiving a straight red card against Longford in their last game of the league.
Sunday’s winners will play Fingal, in a promotion/relegation play-off, for the right to play in Division 2B next season.
Donegal squad; Paul Burns; Martin McGrath, Justin McGee, Christopher McDermott, Jamsie Donnelly,Joe Boyle, Paul Sheridan;Ronan McDermott, Danny Cullen; Lee Henderson, Enda McDermott, Sean Mc Veigh;Kevin Campbell, Paddy Hannighan, Ciaran Mathewson;Dylan Laverty, Michael McGee, Eugene Organ, Brendan Tourish, Justin Browne, Colm Flood, Marty Bonnar, Ciaran Kilgannon, Stephen Sheerin, Shane Gallen,Johnny Downey.