Donegal are bidding for a place in the Nicky Rackard Cup final and another big day out in Croke Park, when they face Armagh in the Athletic Grounds, on Saturday. (Throw-in 3 pm).
Armagh, on the back of comfortable victories over Louth and Tyrone and a decent Division 2B Allianz League campaign, go into the tie as firm favourites. They won three out of five games in the league including a five point (1-18 to 2-10) scoreline against Donegal, in the Athletic Grounds back at the end of February.
An understrength Donegal without first choice playes - Danny Cullen, Joe Boyle, Sean McVeigh, Kevin Campbell and Christopher McDermott - were twice level with the Orchard men in that game and were only two points adrift right up to the closing minutes.
“We were without four key men that day but they are all back and we are getting stronger and don’t fear going to Armagh,” said Donegal manager Ray Durack.
“They will be the favourites and rightly so but with the lads back and a fully fit squad we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Donegal’s prospects are boosted by the return to fitness of their ace marksman Lee Henderson. Henderson scored 1-7 in the league game between the two.
Henderson is expected to return this weekend after sitting out the last two games against Longford and Monaghan after dislocating a finger in the first round defeat to Tyrone in O’Donnell Park.
Paul Sheridan is also available once again after a lengthy lay-off with a shoulder injury. Sheridan missed last week’s game against Monaghan due to Holy Communion while Christy McDermott, who also missed the Monaghan game with an infection, is also available to Durack.
“We are in a much better place and have a much stronger squad than when we met them in the league.”
Donegal won their last two games in some style with a 4-21 to 1-9 victory over Longford, down in Longford, and a 6-12 to 2-13 victory over Monaghan last Saturday in Clones.
Full-forward, Ronan McDermott, top scored with four goals as Donegal pulled away from the Farney County in the closing five minutes.
Donegal were due to train last night (Wednesday) with Durack expected to finalise his selection tomorrow night (Friday).