The road test are all done now and new tactics have been tried out and now it is time to rock for Donegal and Derry in the Ulster championship.
Despite a disappointing Division Two league final defeat to Monaghan; and despite the fact he is planning this week without one of his midfield warriors (Rory Kavanagh) and sweating on the fitness of the other (Neil Gallagher), Donegal manager, Jim McGuinness, is upbeat about the clash with the Oak Leafers.
“It is a big game, as are all Ulster championship games and the fact that we are going to Celtic Park to play Derry makes it even that wee bit more special,” said the Donegal boss.
“We are happy where we are at. We are going into the game on the back of a good league campaign. I know we lost the final, and that was disappointing. We would have liked to have won but overall I feel the league campaign was a positive one.
“We road tested a few new things and tried out a number of different things and still managed to win the most of our games and were promoted which was the main goal at the start of the season.
“We also managed a number of players that had been long term injured and worked them back into the team and we also managed to keep injuries overall to a minimum.
“So overall we are in a good place and it is now a matter of looking at Derry’s strengths and looking at our own squad and who is available to us and working out our tactics and game plan accordingly.”
McGuinness rates Derry highly and feels his side face a massive challenge if they are to make it through to the last four and a clash with either Fermanagh or Antrim.
“There has been a great fresheness about Derry. Brian McIver has done a great job with them and like his time in Donegal he has guided them to back to back promotions over the last two years.
“They play the long ball and also have great pace in their forward line and in their half-back line.
“The have two good ball winners in Emmett McGuckin and Cailean O’Boyle in the full-forward line. Benny Herron has great pace. Enda Lynn has had a very good league and Mark Lynch has been the best player in the league.
“They also have great pace in the half-back line in Sean Leo McGoldrick and Gerard O’Kane. I thought Gerard O’Kane was their best player in the league final.
“They have two great warriors in midfield (Fergal Doherty and Patsy Bradley) and we are going into the game without one of our warriors (Rory Kavanagh) and possibly a second (Neil Gallagher). Which presents its own problem.
“But we are happy where we are at and we have to go with the hand we have been dealt and it is now a matter of getting the game plan and the tactics right and we are good enough on the day.”