Donegal hurlers may have chalked up their first win of season against Fermanagh but manager Ardal McDermott is looking for a much improved performance against Monaghan, this Saturday.
Donegal face Monaghan in the quarter final of the Nickard Cup this Saturday in Inniskeen. (3 pm)
McDermott’s charges came from two points down at half-time against Fermanagh and a man down, to register a 3-15 to 3-11 win, their first of the season in nine competitive outings, seven in the league and two in the Nicky Rackard Cup.
“It was great to get the win last week and it is a boost to confidence given the season so far,” said the Donegal boss.
“But the reality is that it was probably our worst performance in a few weeks and it would not be good enough to beat Monaghan.
“Monaghan are a much better side than Fermanagh; they beat them by 12 points in the first round of the championship and they reached the Division 3A league final, albeit they were well beaten by Roscommon in the final.”
Monaghan defeated Fermanagh first day out in the Nicky Rackard 5-12 to 1-12 in Castleblayney and suffered a 4-15 to 0-7 defeat to Roscommon in the 3A final in Fr Tierney Park.
“The good thing we know is that we are capable of playing much better than we played last Saturday and it is a matter of going out and producing it on the day.
“After last weekend, we won’t be taking Monaghan for granted because we are going to have to play well if we are to make it to the next round. If we play as well as we can I feel we have a great chance, but we are going to have to work hard for it.”
The main Monaghan scoring threat is in their full-forward line of Mark Treanor at full-forward with Stephen Lambe and Brian McGuigan in the corners.
The Donegal last line, who were given a run around early on by Sean Corrigan last Saturday and struggled with the power and strength of Rory Porteous on the edge of the square, are in for another big examination this weekend.
Bernard Lafferty, scorer of two points against Fermanagh, is Donegal’s only injury worry. The wing forward tweaked a hamstring in injury time and has more or less been ruled out by the Donegal manager.
However, Christopher McDermott, who computes from London for games but missed last Saturday’s game, available, he is likely to replace Lafferty in the starting team.
“Bernard is our only injury concern otherwise; we have everybody else and we also have Christopher available again this weekend which is a big plus.
“Enda McDermott and Marty McGrath are back training and getting into shape. This weekend’s game may be a little too early for them. But if we were to win on Saturday we have two weeks to the next round and I expect they would be back in the reckoning by then.”
The winners of Saturday’s game will qualify for a semi-final meeting with either Mayo or Fingal.