Killybegs and Sean MacCumhaills are two of the outsiders for this year’s Donegal Senior Football Championship and yet come Sunday one of them will be through to the last four in the championship race
That is of course barring a draw. But either way one of them are going to make the semi-final.
Killybegs’ league fate has just been sealed for next season. Last Sunday’s defeat by Four Masters in Fintra, finally ended their 2013 league misery and consigned them to Division Two football next season. But that defeat by Four Masters only confirmed what has been inevitable for weeks if not the last couple of months.
Thirteen games played. Thirteen defeats tells its own story. One that indeed is not lost on Killybegs manager, Martin Boyle.
“It has been a disastrous league for us. The bottom line is, we are a good Division Two team and a poor Division One team and that is the way it has been for the last few seasons.
“Division One is a very competitive division and we are not just good enough for it at the moment. We are somewhere in between.”
And yet despite relegation and his side’s pointless league campaign, Boyle is looking forward to Saturday night’s joust with Sean MacCumhaills in Convoy.
And after emerging from Group 3 sharing top spot with Gaoth Dobhair, following a draw with Gaoth Dobhair and home wins over Termon and Dungloe, the Killybegs’ boss has every right to look forward with confidence and indeed some optimism.
“The championship has been good for us and I suppose it does prove if we have everybody fit and well we have a decent enough team.
“Whatever it is about our lads they never have any difficulty getting themselves up for the championship. They are always mad keen to play in the championship.
“I always say we have a good team but a weak panel. We are good when we have our best 15 on the field, something we never seemed to have all year during the league.”
Since their last championship game - against Dungloe in Fintra, Conal Molloy has departed to America and Louis McNern did his cruciate.
“Brendan Faherty and Paul McGinley are due home from America this week. But they are not coming especially for the game, but don’t be surprised if they are togged and there is no point in me saying anything else.
“Because as you know MacCumhaill’s have a Killybegs man training them, Joe McBrearty and I’m sure he will have his ear to the ground this week. There is no truth to the rumour that Conal Molloy is coming home for the game.”
Boyle’s optimism is fuelled, too, by the fact that MacCumhaill’s are a Division Two team, just as were Dungloe and Termon.
MacCumhaill’s, who are managed by former county player Brendan Dunleavy, have also reserved their best football for the championship. They topped a group that included Ardara, Four Masters and Glenfin with wins over Ardara, in Ardara and Glenfin in Ballybofey.
“We had a couple of tight battles in the group stages but we came through that and managed to qualify and now we are looking forward to the quarter-final,” said Brendan Dunleavy, who was also at the helm when MacCumhaill’s last made it all the way to the county final in 2004.
“We have a couple of players carrying knocks. Steven O’Reilly, one of our midfielders, is our biggest concerns. Steven is struggling with an ankle injury while Andrew McCloskey had the ‘flu at the weekend and Rory Dunleavy injured his knee against Bundoran on Sunday evening.
“We are looking forward to the game; it is where we feel MacCumhaill’s should be on a regular basis and we are working hard to make sure of that.
“But we also know Killybegs have been playing at a higher level and they will be favourites and rightly so.”
Killybegs have slight worries about Jason Noctor, Brendan Maguire, Daniel Breslin and David Conwell.
If this quartet are fit and Matthew Smyth, Brendan Boyle, Hugh McFadden and Christopher Murrin play up to scratch, Killybegs’ championship dream may very well live on past Saturday night. This despite the best efforts of Joe and Gary Dunnion, Pat McNulty, Marty O’Reilly and Benny McLaughlin.