St. Eunan's v Kilcar
This one is the match of the weekend with two of the heavyweights colliding in O’Donnell Park. Kilcar are one of the form teams and are in joint second in the Division One table, with six wins from seven outings. Their only defeat was to table toppers Gaoth Dobhair in Magheragallon without their six county men.
St Eunan’s were also one of the form teams, up until last weekend, when they suffered a heavy five point defeat to Gaoth Dobhair in O’Donnell Park.
However, St Eunan’s were seriously understrength with just four of the team that drew with the same opposition in the opening league game in Magheragallon.
“Kilcar are in great form and are putting up big scores and I feel they are putting a lot into this game.
“They would really love to go O’Donnell Park and get a result and if there is ever a good time to get St Eunan’s it is one of their first games. The further they go the more difficult they are to beat.
“St Eunan’s don’t seem to be set up as defensively this season as they were under Maxi Curran.
“I feel Kilcar will benefit from this and with Patrick McBrearty up front they have the firepower to put up a big score.
“The one area where St Eunan’s are strong is around midfield with Rory Kavanagh, Kevin Rafferty and John Haran and I think Kilcar are going to try and avoid this area.
“Ciaran McGinley and Michael Hegarty are a good midfield pairing but they lack the height to compete with the St Eunan’s men and I suspect Kilcar will go short with their kickouts to counter this.
“If they can successfully bypass the midfield my money is on Kilcar to win. It promises to be a fascinating game and I wouldn’t mind seeing it but our own game is on at the same time.”
Rory Kavanagh, Caolan Ward, Lee McMonagle and Darragh Mulgrew are all carrying knocks and did not feature last weekend while Eamonn Doherty and Kevin Rafferty were used from the bench against Gaoth Dobhair.
Eoin McHugh is the big doubt in Kilcar. He has not played for the club since suffering a hamstring tear in Donegal’s Allianz National Football League game with Monaghan at the beginning of last month.
St Eunan’s John Haran is expected to begin his 22nd championship campaign this Sunday.
St. Michael's v Killybegs
After winning a first Division One league title last season St Michael’s have made no secret of the fact that they are putting all their eggs in the championship basket this season.
They have won four of their six league game after a slowing burn start to the season. Goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley (knee) is manager Eddie Harkin’s headache this week as Christy Toye and Colm McFadden returned to action last weekend against Dungloe, after sitting out the week before’s meeting with Termon. Martin McElhinney did not play against Dungloe, but that was believed to be precautionary and he is expected to line out in the middle of the field on Sunday.
Killybegs, with Hugh McFadden showing good club form, have recovered from a poor start and losing their two opening games in the league. They have won three of their last four games and drew the other, albeit in Division Two.
“There is a gap between the top five teams and the next five but there is also a gap between the bottom five in the first division and the top four or five teams in the second division.
“That is why I feel St Michael’s have to be fancied against Killybegs. They are the league champions from last year and they have put a few good results together in recent weeks.
“They seem to be timing their run to be ready for the championship and they have Colm McFadden back in recent weeks and putting up good scores.
“Andrew Kelly is playing well for them, too, and with Christy Toye and Martin McElhinney and I saw that Peter Witherow was back in recent weeks too which strengthens their defence.
“They also have a number of that U-21 side that won a county title a few years ago beginning to finally make their mark. Michael McGinley was the captain of that U-21 team and he is playing well at centre half-back.
“Killybegs often play their best football in the championship as we saw a few years ago when they didn’t win a game in the league but went all the way to the county final. They have lost one of their top scoring forwards over the last few seasons, Brendan Maguire, to St Eunan’s and they have also lost a number of their best players to emigration.
“They have Hugh McFadden in the middle of the field and he will win a fair share of ball and they will be competitive.
“But with Colm McFadden up front St Michael’s have the scoring power and I would expect them to win by four or five points.”
Verdict: St Michaels