Double take for Donegal and Cork

Double take for Donegal and Cork
Peter Campbell peter.campbell@donegaldemocrat.com dgldemocrat

Donegal and Cork have a double date in Croke Park on Saturday with the minors meeting at 2 p.m. and the seniors clashing at 4 p.m.

The games are part of a triple header at GAA Headquarters with Mayo and Westmeath meeting at 6 p.m.

There were mixed results for the two Donegal sides in the Ulster final with the minors clinching the An tAthair Uí Muirí Cup for the seventh time and they now head to Croke Park for an All-Ireland quarter-final with a pep in their step.

It will be the first time for all of the panel to play on the hallowed sod, but they can look to manager, Shaun Paul Barrett, for experience, as he played there on a winning Donegal Vocational Schools team in 1985.

Barrett has been to Killarney to see the Munster final and although he says Cork (who lost that game to Kerry) are a good side, he is confident that Donegal can prevail.

“If we can get all our good players out on the pitch and get a performance out of them, I would be confident that we can do well,” he said.

The minors will be followed onto Croke Park by a Donegal senior team trying to pick up the pieces as they take on Cork in a round 4 Qualifier. Getting to play the Qualifier in Croke Park is a bonus for the Donegal squad, although if they win, they know that Dublin will await in the quarter-final seven days later on Saturday, 6th August.

Cork were knocked out of the Munster championship by Tipperary, who subsequently lost the Munster final to Kerry, but have come through the Qualifiers and will be in Croke Park on Sunday for a quarter-final tilt with Galway.

The Cork defeat at the hands of Tipperary was one of the shocks of the season, but Tipperary have franked that form and Donegal will have to be very wary of the Rebels. But on all known form, Donegal should be good enough. Cork were relegated from Division One of the National League and their form has been on a downward graph for a number of years

Former Donegal player, Barry Dunnion, who has become a supporter of the teams feels that a win over Cork could open up new avenues.

“You just never know after that,” he said.

“If they can beat Cork, that will give them a confidence boost. The word is that big Neil (Gallagher) is close to a return and if that happens, it might allow them to push Michael Murphy inside,” said Dunnion.

The return of Neil Gallagher would be a major fillip for a side who have to recover from a narrow defeat in the Ulster final for a second year in-a-row.

The carrot of a quarter-final with Dublin might be seen as a booby prize by some but this bunch of Donegal footballers like a challenge. Last year they took a similar route and produced a good display to overcome Galway in the Qualifiers in Croke Park.

They can do the same on Saturday and after that anything can happen.

See Page 72 for full Dunnion interview