There is something special about Donegal under the guidance of Jim McGuinness and we may never fully realise that until he is gone.
For some in the county success for Donegal will always be a short term thing and if you lose one game then you’d better watch your back.
Even those so-called supporters of the county have come to realise that Donegal under Jim McGuinness are probably the best ever prepared Donegal team.
I know it is a poor comparison, but look at the way Donegal sides are prepared now and they way Donegal went to Breffni Park for their first senior Ulster final in 1963.
The management of 1963 were not prepared for what was to unfold. On a blistering hot day, the Donegal senior team sat out in the heat to watch the Donegal minors play in the curtain raiser instead of keeping hydrated indoors.
For hydration they were given oranges and “asked to suck them as hard as they could” according to team member, John Hannigan.
Imagine that preparation and the detail which Jim McGuinness will have gone through in the last two weeks in the lead up to Sunday’s game.
The maestro will know that Down will be out for revenge for last year’s Ulster final defeat and will want to have his charges read for that challenge.
Even without the influential Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher, Donegal have the talent that should see them over the line.
The Down line out is not far removed from that which started last year’s Ulster final and Lacey will be the only notable absentee for Donegal (Neil Gallagher did not start in Clones against Down last year).
Also Donegal have Eamon McGee available now and he is more than an able replacement for the recovering Lacey.
Under Jim McGuinness Donegal have a 100% record in the Ulster senior championship - a remarkable achievement in the present era.
The Glenties man has made no secret of the fact that the championship is all that matters.
He took his charges away to Downings last weekend for the final countdown and the finishing touches will be put to the squad this week.
Don’t expect to see a team list from Donegal until shortly before 2 p.m. on Sunday, but don’t expect any major surprises either. McGuinness has been loyal to those who have served him well - and few could argue that he has got nearly all of the big calls right.
Against Tyrone Ross Wherity and Patrick McBrearty were a revelation. If we can get a couple of more goals then there is no doubt that Donegal will be preparing for a third Ulster final in-a-row.
Who would bet against Donegal and McGuinness achieving that goal?