Donegal enter the Nicky Rackard Cup ‘last chance saloon’ when they host Monaghan on Saturday in O’Donnell Park. (Throw-in 2.30 pm).
After losing their preliminary round tie to arch rivals Roscommon, in Athleague, Saturday’s game is a make-or-break tie for the reigning Nicky Rackard Cup holders.
It is simple really - win and the defence is back on track and they advance to the second round of the Qualifiers. Lose and manager Ray Durack and his men will be out.
They went down by a point to Roscommon- a repeat of their Division 3A League final meeting. The Connacht men emerged 1-12 to 1-11 winners.
Donegal were without Jamesie Donnelly, suspended, Christopher McDermott and top scorer, Lee Henderson, for the clash with the Rossies. But with all back for this weekend’s clash Donegal will be as near full strength as makes no difference.
“The boys were a big loss the last day and it meant we had to move things about and it did weaken us,” said Durack.
Monaghan also lost their first round game. They suffered a heavy home defeat to Roscommon, in Iniskeen. Roscommmon won that game 2-15 to 0-9. So confidence is bound to be low in the Farney camp.
And certainly given the way their last visit to O’Donnell Park went, they will not be relishing Saturday’s trip to the North West.
That was back in the middle of March and goals from Sean McVeigh Kevin Campbell and Paddy Hannigan helped Donegal to a 3-17 to 1-7 victory, over the Farney men.
“I know we won easy enough the last time we met and we have a fairly good record against them in recent times. But we have also lost to them in the championship in recent years too so we will be looking on it as another tough game and one we have to win.
“I am confident if we get our game going that we will be in with a good chance. But we are taking nothing for granted; as far as we are concerned it is our last chance to stay in the competition and we will be going out to give it our best shot.”
With Jamesie Donnelly, Christopher McDermott and Lee Henderson available once more all three are expected back to be in the starting fifteen.
However, Durack has reported a number of niggly injury concerns and is not expected to finalise the team until after their final get-together in Friday night.