Donegal minors are back in Croke Park on Sunday when they take on Galway in the All-Ireland Minor Championship semi-final (throw-in 1.30 p.m.)
The curtain raiser to the senior semi-final between Tipperary and Mayo, Donegal are hoping to make it to a second ever All-Ireland minor final in just three years. Declan Bonner’s charges lost out to Kerry in the 2014 All-Ireland final.
Shaun Paul Barrett is the man in charge of the Donegal minors this year and they have been impressive, winning the Ulster Minor League and Championship and will fancy their chances of being back on Jones Road on the third Sunday in September.
“Getting to the final is a massive incentive for any team,” was how the manager summed it up this week speaking to the Donegal Democrat.
“To be honest I believe that if we can get our team onto the field free from injuries, we have a chance against anybody,” said Shaun Paul.
Donegal have overcome Antrim, Monaghan, Derry and Cork on their way to the semi-final; Galway overcame Mayo in the Connacht final (1-9 to 0-6) on a miserable day in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, and then overcame Laois (3-10 to 0-12) in the quarter-final.
The Connacht side are regarded as a top class side and will set Donegal their greatest task so far. But what has been impressive from the Donegal boys is that they have responded to whatever challenge has been put their way.
They looked in a little trouble against Cork, especially in defence, but they found a way. Given that Galway hit three goals against a good Laois side, it will be imperative that Donegal are tight at the back, especially in the opening quarter, and also that they take their chances.
If they do that, and given the way they have finished out games, there is no reason why they are not making plans for a September visit to Croker.
They can heap further misery on a county who have had a very poor run in recent weeks - minor and senior hurlers and senior footballers, all defeated by Tipperary, and their camogie team defeated by Kilkenny.
Donegal manager, Shaun Paul Barrett, is leaving nothing to chance and has reported a clean bill of health for his charges and he also feels that he has a top class panel to work from.
“That makes a difference. We have to be prepared for everything, a black card, a red card, but we know we have the players. Every game is different so we have to plan for that,” said Barrett.
There are not expected to be many changes from the side that defeated Cork. The manager will have to choose between Aaron McCrea, Four Masters and Aaron Deeney St. Eunan’s (who replaced him in Croke Park) and whether he will give Aodh Ruadh’s Shane McGrath a starting berth.