THE BREAKING BALL: Dubs won't fancy meeting us

MANUS BOYLE ON THIS WEEKEND'S QUARTER FINAL

THE BREAKING BALL: Dubs won't fancy meeting us

At the start of the year, the usual suspects put forward their predications for the years ahead. Dublin would retain Sam and the Liam Mc Carthy would reside once again in Brian Cody’s living room.

The strong would get even stronger and the pack would have bother keeping up.

It’s looking good for Kilkenny on the hurling front and next Saturday evening will tell us a lot of where exactly Sam will reside for the next 12 months.

Donegal have a fight on their hands. All the experts have all but given up hope of anyone giving the Dubs a bit of a scare. You'd have thought some would have had enough cop to hold their powder as long as Donegal are still in the championship. If any team has been a thorn in the capital's side, it has been the men from the hills.

Every Dublin player will know what to expect next Saturday evening. They'll know there is a good chance a green and gold blanket will be thrown across Croke Park; they'll know every ball will be contested as if Donegal's lives depend on it; they'll know that space will be at a premium and time on the ball will be scarce.

For Donegal, nothing short of giving everything will be enough for Saturday night’s encounter.

Are Dublin that good? No.

They're beatable like every other team. However, they are fresh. They have cruised through another Leinster championship but they will not be at their sharpest.

They have yet to play a game in this year’s championship with the type of intensity that the Ulster championship offers, but they will be rested and go into the game with a freshness that we lacked against Cork.

Apart from a number of players, as a team we looked tired against Cork. At times we looked out on our feet and were wide open at the back from start to finish. If I'm honest I would suggest we might have struggled against a better Cork side who believed that they could beat us.

We conceded a goal and 15 points. Yes, we scored 21 points in reply but do we think we will get the same space and opportunities come this weekend? If we leave the back door open this Satuday night, as many times as we did last weekend, we will pay a heavier price.

Cork were on a hiding to nothing. They knew nothing was expected of them and the pressure was on Donegal to perform, especially after the criticism of losing the Ulster final to Tyrone.

They also were aware the Ulster championship, above all others, takes it fair share out of the players.

Even the opening round win over Fermanagh wasn’t easy. Two hard physical games against Monaghan and then the disappointment of losing the Ulster final in the last few minutes left Donegal in a fragile place. Cork knew it and they went for us early on.

We could have folded but that’s not this group's way. They have dug deep on many occasions and have come up with the goods.

We have plenty of leaders, plenty with the heart to take the fight to the opposition and players that just have one goal in their minds, win at all costs.

Twenty minutes in we started to play. We will have to go from the start this weekend. The Cork defence ran at us and too many were not picked up.

Again that approach will not get the job done this weekend. We have to follow every one of them, even if it’s only a line ball. We must set the tone from the start and put them on the back foot.

We should be in their faces - like Tipperary were against Galway - not giving them a second to get their bearing or find their breath.

If we can take anything from last Saturday night it's that our shooting, after a shaky start, was top drawer. Paddy McBrearty was exceptional, Ryan and Eoin Mc Hugh were excellent throughout and their running at pace is a vital part of our game plan.

We do not set up as defensive under Rory as we did under Jim. We have learned that while you can stop teams scoring against you , you need to be able to create at least 25 to 30 opportunities to score.

Defensive players do not have that in their armour. They are there to stop. If we can get the balance right against Dublin we have a chance.

I’m not one of those who think Dublin are unbeatable. On any given day anything can happen. No team has ever been that good that they can’t be opened up and Dublin will not like playing Donegal. They have always struggled to overcome us.

Yes they gave us a couple of beatings in the last while, but Saturday evening is winner takes all.

If we can stop them building from the back and building up a head of steam and frustrate them up front, we will have a chance.

If we can stay with them up until the last ten or 15 minutes we'll be in with a shout, but we will only win the game if we go out and attack them.

We'll only win the game if we attack them with conviction at every opportunity and every man plays at their very best.

Minors

Again, it was another great result by the county minors on Saturday.

They continue their journey, impressing everyone along the way. They will prepare now for a semi- final and have to be given all the support that is necessary in order to give them the best chance to reach their goal.