Donegal will have a chance to reclaim the Anglo-Celt Cup when they meet Monaghan in the Ulster SFC final in Clones on Sunday, July 20.
Malachy O’Rourke’s Monaghan, who defeated Donegal 0-13 to 0-7 in last year’s provincial final, overcame Armagh 1-18 to 1-13 in Sunday’s Ulster semi-final replay at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones.
Monaghan and Armagh had shared a 0-14 apiece draw eight days’ beforehand.
“Monaghan, like Armagh, are a team with marquee forwards who are difficult to handle,” Donegal manager Jim McGuinness said.
This is McGuinness’s fourth provincial final in four years as senior manager, having also guided the U-21s to the 2010 Ulster championship.
Donegal’s minors will play in the Ulster MFC final in the curtain-raiser on Sunday week against Armagh.
“The pain of the defeat last year is still very fresh so we want to put in a performance,” McGuinness said on Saturday.
“Losing last year hurt but we are trying to get back into a position where we can express ourselves on the pitch.
“There’s a sense of hurt because it’s Monaghan but it’s nothing to do with Monaghan, it’s to do with us. We’re trying to regain a title.
“We just want to be Ulster champions. The title is there for two teams and whoever wants it the most and gets things right on the day to put in a performance.
“That’s what we are building towards. For us it’s about a game of football and we are preparing as best we can to win a game of football.
“Hopefully we can go out there and deliver a performance that is fitting of the occasion. It’s a huge occasion with a packed out Clones with both Donegal teams in the final. So it’s a big day for Donegal football.”
McGuinness aims to have a full panel at training on Thursday night with Rory Kavanagh (abductor muscle), Neil Gallagher, Paddy McGrath, Colm McFadden and Darach O’Connor (all minor hamstring) expected to return.
The four didn’t play in the All-County Football League over the weekend.
Michael Murphy of Glenwilly and Odhran MacNiallias from Gaoth Dobhair both missed out on the 2-11 to 0-10 win for Kevin Cassidy’s team on precautionary measures.
Both Neil and Eamon McGee featured for the visitors to Pairc Naomh Columba.
Those from the panel who played for their clubs yesterday came through unscathed.
Christy Toye and Martin McElhinney helped St Michael’s to a 0-9 to 0-8 victory over a Naomh Conaill team that included Anthony Thompson, Dermot Molloy and Leo McLoone.
Ryan McHugh and Patrick McBrearty were part of the Kilcar side that defeated Four Masters, who fielded Paul Durcan, Karl Lacey and Luke Keaney, 1-16 to 0-8 in Towney
Declan Walsh lined up at centre-field as Malin overcame Ardara 1-12 to 1-10 and Frank McGlynn played for Glenfin in Division Two.
“We’re in a better place than we were last year with the injuries,” McGuinness added. “I said then it was like managing a situation whereas now it’s managing a team preparing for a match.”
With the county U-21 side having reached the Ulster final in April, where they lost 2-6 to 0-8 against Cavan at Brewster Park in Enniskillen, it’s only the second time - with 1963 being the other - that Donegal’s three teams at the respective brackets have made their provincial finals.
Meanwhile, new Celtic manager Ronnie Delia has revealed that McGuinness will act as sports psychologist for the Scottish Premiership champions’ first team.
McGuinness joined the Glasgow club in November 2012 as a performance director and had been primarily working with the academy players as well as the younger members of the first team squad.
“We have a sports psychologist in Jim McGuinness, so I want to bring him in even more,” Deila said. “All my staff’s knowledge is going to be used, I can’t do it all.
“Of course, I learn a lot because I hire fantastic people around me but I want all my staff to be a specialist in something and then you need to be even better.
“I want the best scientists in the world.”