Tom Comacksport@donegaldemocrat.com@dgldemocrat 

 Donegal and Tyrone in next Sunday’s Ulster final in St Tiernach’s Park, in Clones is billed as potentially the match of the 2016 championship, (throw-in 2pm).

The current Donegal and Tyrone squads are pretty familiar with each other. They have met no fewer that four times in the race for the Anglo Celt Cup alone in the last five seasons.

And while those games might not be to the purists’ liking, they were all fascinating contests and football gurus from right around the land were queueing up to study up close the new game; the systems and the tactics.

In the first three of those meetings, 2011, 2012 and 2013, it was the new prophet Jim McGuinness pitting his wits against the old master, the Dalai Lama of Gaelic football, Mickey Harte. And last year in Ballybofey it was McGuinness's wingman Rory Gallagher and Harte that were patrolling the sideline.

Donegal won all four games and the new game was born.

They are four defeats that have not gone down well in Tyrone and defeats that Mickey Harte and his Red Hand commandos will be going all out to avenge in Sunday’s final showdown.

And the man that has masterminded All-Ireland triumphs at senior, minor and U-21 in his native county, firmly believes that this current Tyrone team are more than capable of beating Donegal.

“People will say they are our bogey team and that they have got this hoodoo over us and as results go they might say that is the case,” said the Tyrone boss.

“I’m not just a results person. I’m a performance person. I’m across the whole game and while they were winning those games I don’t think we could never have won any of those games.

“We lost them all and could have won them all and that gives me the confidence that we can beat Donegal.

“It would be different if we had always been playing second fiddle and saying those boys are ahead of us and I don’t know how we are going to get close to Donegal.

“ But that was not the case. I know we can get close to Donegal and if we get close to Donegal there is no reason why we cannot beat them.

“I believe we are capable of beating them. I believe we are going to have to play at our best level to do that.

“But that is what you have to do if you want to win things, you got to play your best.”

Sunday’s final will only be the third time the two counties have crossed swords in the provincial decider with the record standing at one each.

Donegal defeated Tyrone in the 1972 final to lift the Anglo Celt Cup for the very first time.

Tyrone had to wait 17 years to avenge that final defeat and they did so in 1989 after a replay, running out 2-13 to 0-7 winners after the teams drew 0-11 the first day.

In all the counties have crossed paths in the province 20 times with Tyrone holding the slight edge. They emerged the winners in ten of those meetings to Donegal’s nine, with one, the 1989 final, ending in a draw.

They both have three games played on their way to the final. Donegal, thanks to two Odhran MacNiallais goals, were comfortable 2-12 to 0-11 first round winners over Fermanagh, in Ballybofey, despite losing All Star full-back Neil McGee to a red card before half-time.

MacNiallais found the net again in the quarter final against defending champions Monaghan, in Kingspan Breffni Park.

But Donegal, who also finished this game with 14, after Martin McElhinney picked up two yellow cards, were clinging on at the end after Conor McManus converted three late frees to tie up the game for a 1-11 to a 0-14 draw.

Donegal won the replay last Saturday week evening by a point in one of the most comprehensive one point victories seen in a long time. Donegal 0-17, Monaghan 2-10 was how it ended.

Tyrone accounted for Derry in the opening game in Celtic Park in a one-sided contest and drew with Cavan, 0-16 to 3-7 first day out in their semi-final. But they made no mistake second time around as the hit 5-18 to Cavan’s 2-17, to cruise into the final and a meeting with Donegal.

Donegal will be the first team since Down in the 1960s to contest six Ulster finals in-a-row, and they are looking to win their fourth final in those six years.