Donegal and Tyrone are going in different directions. Donegal are a side on the way up and improving with every outing while Tyrone are on a downward curve.
That is the view of former Donegal All-Ireland winning wing-back and a man that has a good knowledge of the Tyrone club and county scene, Donal Reid.
The Red Hugh’s clubman as well as managing Donegal to U-21 Ulster success in 1995, has also managed Tyrone clubs - Clann Na Gael (Stephen O’Neill and Brian Dooher), Aghyaran (Martin Penrose) and Gortin - over the last ten years or so.
He also feels with Derry’s victory over Armagh in Sunday in the first of the Ulster semi-finals was the first sign that the guard is changing in Ulster and that Donegal can complete the change this Sunday to set up a Donegal, Derry final.
“I think Donegal are a team on the up and going in the right direction. Jim McGuinness knows what he is doing and what he wants to achieve and he is going about it the right way. I have been very impressed with them this year,” said Reid.
“They are improving with every game, while it is hard to know what to make of Tyrone this year. They were very inconsistent in the league and did not make promotion. They are not the team they were a few years ago and while they are still a decent enough side and have a wealth of experience they have dropped down a notch or two from what they were say when they last won the All-Ireland.
“Given the form to date shown by the two teams you would have to fancy Donegal. I like what I have seen from Donegal this season; they are very well organised and are playing to a system and while followers don’t like it, the most important thing is that it is proving successful.
“I certainly don’t mind how they win on Sunday as long as they win and I think most supporters will feel exactly the same way.
“The system Donegal are using means they are a very difficult team to score against while they have the forwards at the other end capable of scoring. Michael Murphy is one of the top forwards in the game. Colm McFadden is in brilliant forward and the arrival of Patrick McBrearty has added a whole new dimension to the full-forward line. Any one of the three are match winners on their own.
“If we can close down Stephen O’Neill, Martin Penrose and Brian McGuigan, they are the big danger men up front for Tyrone, we will be in with a great chance. Against Monaghan Stephen (O’Neill) seemed to be back to his best while McGuigan made them tick.
“Mickey Harte is a very shrewd tactican and will no doubt try and come up with some kind of plan to break down our massed defence and as he is the man that invented the blanket defence he is possibly best equipped to come up with some way around it.
“That is why I would take a leaf out of Derry’s book and play a little more direct than we have been playing and get the ball in a little earlier to the inside men. They will be expecting us to be defensive and by going more direct, especially early on, it might catch them on the hop; a few quick early scores is what we need and this might be the best way to get them.
“The form book points to a Donegal win and if the occasion and the possibility of being pre-match favourites does not get to them I think Donegal are capable of winning. The way the championship is going and after last Sunday, I think we are going to have a Donegal, Derry final.”