Donegal going north for their final preparations

Donegal will put the finishing touches to their preparations for Sunday week’s All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Cork with a weekend away in Inishowen.

Donegal will put the finishing touches to their preparations for Sunday week’s All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Cork with a weekend away in Inishowen.

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness will take his squad to the peninsula this weekend for a two day training camp and will overnight on Saturday night in the Redcastle Hotel.

The team will train on Saturday and again on Sunday morning but as McGuinness revealed, the weekend away is more about plotting and planning for the Cork challenge, than putting in a number of hard and lung busting training sessions.

“This is a big week for us really. We’ve got Thursday night, Saturday and Sunday. It is an important few days, because next week we will be tapering down and we’ll be doing a lot less in our preparations and it will be just a matter freshening up and getting ready for the weekend. This is an important couple of days for us,” insisted McGuinness, on Tuesday night at the team’s All-Ireland semi-final press night in Jackson’s Hotel.

“The first week has been about getting a handle on Cork and get a handle on ourselves in relation to Cork then trying to relay that information to the boys.

“And hopefully by the end of the weekend, the boys will have a clear idea what we are looking for; what we are looking for on the day. Obviously we will work on our own game plan and our own goals and that is why it is so important to get away for the couple of days.”

St. Michael’s Martin McElhinney is the Donegal manager’s only injury concern but McGuinness says that the versatile McElhinney will be fit by Sunday week to face Cork.

“Martin has a slight knee injury, but it is nothing too serious. He didn’t play for St. Michael’s at the weekend and he has not trained all week. But we expect him back training on Tuesday night and to be honest if the game was this Sunday, he would be fit to play. It is just a matter of being careful and not running the risk of aggravating the injury. But he will be fine for Cork.”

Otherwise McGuinness reported a clean bill of health including Neil Gallagher, who had been struggling with an ankle injury in the lead up to the quarter-final meeting with Kerry.

“Neil played for Glenswilly at the weekend and he came through it no bother and had a fine game as did Michael Murphy. It was Michael’s first game with the club since last February and he scored nine points.

“All the boys came through the weekend’s club games without any problems which was a relief and they are in good shape, which is very positive.”

Meanwhile, at Tuesday night’s briefing, McGuinness unashamedly said that it was all about winning and insisted he didn’t care what other people thought about Donegal and their style of play and the tactics they employ.

He was reacting to a query on whether comments from Kerry player, Darran O’Sullivan, who was reported as having said that he would rather Kerry lost playing ‘old school’ football than playing the modern style game.

“No, not at all, every man is entitled to his opinion. We are hoping to win an All-Ireland. Darran is in a position where he has won All-Irelands and lost All-Irelands, and he can chose how he wants to win one.

“But all we are trying to do is win an All-Ireland; that is where our focus lies and I don’t care how we do it as long as we do it. It would be absolutely unbelievable for that group of players. They have worked tremendously hard over the last two years. They have put in a huge effort and have made a lot of sacrifices and have put other parts of their lives on hold. And to get to the All-Ireland final would be a huge day for them.

“We have all been watching the Olympics for the last two weeks, and we heard Mo Farah tell of running 120 miles a week for ten years, and we heard Katie Taylor as an 11 year-old say that she wanted to win an Olympic gold medal and our lads have been watching All-Ireland finals since they were four or five.

“They have watched Kerry, Cork, Dublin and all those teams win All-Irelands and they are now 70 minutes away from getting to the final and hopefully they can do it on the day.”

After the weekend, Donegal will train again on Tuesday and Thursday night before once again overnighting in Dublin before the big game with Cork on Sunday week, 26th August.