Following last weekend’s victory over Meath, Donegal face Tyrone in Division One of the Tesco Ireland Ladies National Football League in Augher on Saturday with their top flight status for next season all but secured. (Throw-in 4 pm)
While mathematically not out of relegation bother with six points, three ahead of Tyrone, and six better off than Meath, Donegal are in a good place.
And with only one team making the drop and the Royals playing Mayo and Laois - two sides chasing places in the knockout stages of the League - Meath’s chances of catching Donegal look pretty remote. And even if they do they will have to win both games by big margins and hope Donegal lose heavily to Tyrone and Cork, in their last two games.
“While our position is looking pretty good our best approach against Tyrone is to take it as a must win game and that is how we will prepare and approach it,” insisted Donegal sharpshooter, Geraldine McLaughlin, who hit 1-9 of last Sunday’s 2-11 against Meath.
“The Meath game was big game and a real six pointer but we have to look at the Tyrone game just like we did the Meath game so as to leave nothing to chance.
“There is a good rivalry between ourselves and Tyrone, too. We have met a number of times in the last few years; we beat them in the league and they beat us in the championship after extra-time. The results stands at two each and with Tyrone needing to win they will they will be up for it.”
A Donegal win against the Red Hands would see Donegal move on to nine points and in with a chance of one of the four semi-final berths. This would obviously also depend on how Dublin and Laois fare in their closing two games. Mayo, too, who are on six points, will still not have given up on making the knock-out stages.
“If we beat Tyrone we are in with a chance even though we have to go to Cork for our last game which will be tough challenge. But with Cork having already qualified you never know how that game might go. The important thing is to win on Saturday and keep that chance alive.”
Donegal play Cork the following Sunday in the final game and their sixth away from home.
“The season has gone well for us and we have done very well considering that we had only one game at home and we lost that one, our very first game against Laois,” said Geraldine.
“The win over Dublin was a big result and was a great boost to confidence and we did well last weekend against Meath, too, given that we were three points down at half-time.
“It was a good result and hopefully it is enough and we will be playing in Division One again next year, where we want to be playing against all the best teams.”
Nicole McLaughlin and Therese McCafferty, who both missed the trip to Meath, are also set to sit out Saturday’s clash with the Red Hands.
McLaughlin, a younger sister of Geraldine’s and regular full-back, is recovering from a fractured shoulder suffered in a club game the weekend before last which will also rule her out of the following weekend’s game against Cork.
Wing-back McCafferty is still receiving treatment for a calf muscle injury suffered in training last week.
Otherwise manage,r Hugh Molloy, expects to have the everybody else available to him.
Tyrone have just one win - at home to Meath - in round three while they suffered a heavy ten point defeat away to Dublin last weekend.
While a win for Tyrone may be enough to ensure they are playing Division One football again next year, they will be anxious to take something from their joust with Donegal just in case Meath pull off a major escape in their final two games.
Besides they will also be anxious to win on home soil against their arch rivals from across the border.
The Donegal starting team is expected to be very much along the lines of that which started against Meath last Sunday.
Donegal, with a new management team and new look team, following the departure of a number of experience players, deserve great credit for surviving in such high quality company.