Donegal bidding for three in-a-row

Donegal bidding for three in-a-row
Tom Comack sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Donegal face Monaghan on Saturday morning in the semi-final of the Ulster Minor Football in St Tiernach’s Park, Clones. (Throw-in 11.30 am)

Donegal are the reigning champions and are chasing a third league title in-a-row. They go into the last four tie on the back of a good league campaign and three wins out of four outings. The side that are managed by Shaun Paul Barrett, who replaced Declan Bonner at the end of last season, clocked up big wins over Fermanagh, Derry and Antrim in the group games. Their only defeat was against Tyrone in Ballybofey.

Tyrone, who lost to Antrim, topped the section ahead of Donegal on score average. The Red Hands face Armagh in the other semi-final, also on Saturday morning.

Donegal have racked up an impressive 8-44 with 14 different players getting their names on the scoresheet.

St Eunan’s Niall O’Donnell, one of the survivors from last season’s league winning side, has chalked up 2-10 and is the the top scorer while Cloughaneely’s Jason McGee 1-6 and Naomh Conaill’s Eoghan McGettigan 0-6, two more survivors from 2015 have also been in good form in front of the posts.

McGee has posted an impressive 1-6 from midfield in three games. He did not feature against Fermanagh in the opening game.

“With the exception of the Tyrone game, the league has gone well and we feel we have come on well and have made good progress since the Tyrone game,” manager Shaun Barrett, told the Democrat.

Donegal’s main focus is on the championship and a May 29th meeting with either Fermanagh or Antrim in the Ulster quarter-final. They meet on Sunday, 15th May in the Ulster preliminary round.

Between now and the championship there is also the matter of retaining the Ulster Minor League and Barrett and Donegal hope to take another step along that road this Saturday morning.

“There are a number of good things about Saturday’s game. It gives us the opportunity to play in Clones and against quality opposition.

“Monaghan are seen as one of the top minor teams in Ulster this year and it also gives us an opportunity to reach the final and another game against quality opposition.

“The more good games against quality opposition we get the better we will be prepared for the championship.”

Enda McCormack, who was shown a straight red card against Antrim last Saturday, is serving a one match ban this weekend and will miss the game.

Otherwise, Barrett has all of the squad that have been available over the last two games against Derry and Antrim as he awaits the return of Shane McGrath (illness) Eoghain Carr (hip), Daniel Lyons (ankle) and Oisin Rooney (hamstring).

Monaghan have played one game less. They were in group A along with Armagh, Cavan and Down and they took the number one position in the group. In their three games they scored, 3-44 while they conceded 4-31, which is more than Donegal’s concession of 3-28 from four games.

This is a good looking Donegal side with a lot of quality right through the team and also a good mix of power and pace with a very good work ethic right through the line up.

They also seem to have strength in depth with all 28 players in the squad having featured at some stage in the campaign so far.

The Donegal U-17 development squad under manager Brian McGeehin also face Monaghan on Saturday, in the U-17 Development league semi-final. That game is in Annyalla, Monaghan. (11.30 am)

The early throw-in time is at the request of Monaghan who are playing Cork on Saturday in the All-Ireland U-21 All-Ireland semi-final in O’Connor Park, Tullamore at 4.30.