Donegal are back in Ulster Minor Football League action on Saturday when they entertain Down, in Sean MacCumhaill Park, in an Ulster Minor Shield play-off. (Throw-in 12 noon.)
With the prospect of one more game against Armagh or Fermanagh (who play in the other Shield play-off also on Saturday), Donegal will be going all out for a win that will give them one more competitive outing ahead of their May 20th championship meeting with Cavan.
“It should be a useful work out. Down are managed by former senior All-Ireland winning manager Pete McGrath so they are bound to be a useful outfit,” said Donegal manager Stephen Friel.
“With the Cavan game only four weeks from this Sunday, we would like to win on Saturday as it would give us another good competitive game the following Saturday.”
The Donegal boss, who has drafted Hugh McFadden from Killybegs into the squad this week, also insisted that he was going to change the team around this weekend and experiment a little in a bid to find the right formation.
“Hugh McFadden has been added to the squad this week, so obviously we are going to give Hugh a run and John Fitzgerald got his first game last Saturday against Antrim and played very well so we are going to take another look at John on Saturday.
“There are one or two others we have not got a chance to try up to now but we hope to give them a run against Down too. There are still a good few places up for grabs in the team and it is only fair that everybody gets a chance to make the team and the panel for Cavan”.
Friel has injury concerns with Eoin McHugh (shoulder) and Darragh Mulgrew (hand) and he is concerned about the number of games the players will play this weekend.
“We normally train on Wednesday, but we moved it to Tuesday this week so as not to clash with club minor games and most of the boys will have club games on Friday night and again on Sunday this weekend.
“We had a situation last weekend where we had a number of players who left their homes at 6.30 am to travel with us to Ahoghill to play Antrim and had to be back in time to play for their clubs on Saturday evening. It is very unfair on young players, most of whom are studying for the Leaving Certificate. So much for player welfare.”
Donegal won two of their games in the Minor League to date with wins over Fermanagh and Antrim. They lost to Tyrone and Derry.
Down have played one game less as there were only four teams in their group. They registered a narrow win over the reigning Ulster champions Cavan, while they lost narrowly to both Armagh and Monaghan.
Monaghan and Cavan are the two teams that have qualified from the group for the Minor League semi-final and will face Tyrone and Derry from the top two in Donegal’s group.
The winners of Saturday’s game will play the winner of the other play-off between Armagh and Fermangh the following Saturday.
In the event of Donegal not progressing Stephen Friel has lined up a challenge game with Roscommon, the recent winners of the Connacht minor league for Saturday week, before taking on Monaghan and Sligo over the following two weekends.