Naomh Conaill v Termon
Naomh Conaill begin the defence of the championship at home to Termon. Martin Doherty has replaced Cathal Corey as Martin Regan’s right hand man and joint manager this season.
Francie Friel is the new man in charge at Termon. The former All-Ireland winning ladies manager has replaced Paddy McDaid.
“Naomh Conaill suffered a heavy enough of a defeat in the league against Kilcar in Towney, the weekend before last, but I’m not reading too much into that result, “ said Patrick Gallagher.
“Kilcar probably have more work done and were sharper because they had to be, given they are playing St Eunan’s this weekend.
“Naomh Conaill are probably timing their run and feel, looking at the group, they are good enough to qualify from it which is a dangerous enough strategy, “ said Patrick Gallagher.
“But looking at the group they are probably right but I’m sure they will not forget that Termon gave them a run for their money last year in the quarter final.
“Ardara played Termon a few week’s ago in the league and I was impressed with them that day. They were well set up and Francie Friel has them well organised and in Daire McDaid they have a real gem of a forward. He would walk onto any of the top senior teams in the county.
“Naomh Conaill will be favourites to advance but I expect Termon to make it uncomfortable for them and stay with them for 40 minutes or so.
“But with Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy, Leon Thompson, John O’MallEy up front and all playing well and with Leo McLoone and Anthony Thompson, I expect Naomh Conaill to pull away in the last ten minutes."
Termon gave Naomh Conaill one of their sternest tests in the quarter-final last year running them to three points, Naomh Conaill 0-11, Termon 1-5.
County U-21 and senior panellist Ciaran Thompson returned from a lengthy lay-off for Naomh Conaill in their 3-10 to 0-12 win over Ardara in the league on Saturday evening.
Leo McLoone has sat on the bench is recent weeks, but again it is believed to be only purely precautionary and the word coming out of Glenties is that he will be fit to take his place.
Daire McDaid did not play in Towney for Termon against Kilcar last Saturday night, but he is expected to be be available for the clash with the champions.
Goalkeeper Stephen McGrath picked up an injury in the Donegal Comórtas Peile Na Gaeltachta final and did not play in last Saturday’s league game against Ardara.
Verdict: Naomh Conaill
Gaoth Dobhair v Four Masters
Gaoth Dobhair are the form team and are taking an unbeaten league run of games into their clash with Four Masters in Magheragallon.
Conal Sheridan, in his second year in the manager’s job, has got them ticking over nicely and they have got tongues wagging around the county again about the return of the glory days.
“Gaoth Dobhair have had a great start to the season and seem to have finally got their act together and while no one was mentioning them at the start of the season, going on their form to date they are contenders,” said Patrick Gallagher.
“They have a good mix of power and pace and youth and experience. They are physically big and strong up the middle with the McGees, Neil, Eamon, Peter; Michael Carroll and Odhran MacNiallais and Kevin Cassidy in a roving role and then they have great speed on the wings.
“Michael Carroll also has great pace and when he runs at teams he can really eat up the ground and they have a very reliable free taker in Gavin McBride.
“They have a lot of what it takes to go a long way and have the look of team that are really pulling together and have finally got their act together.
“Four Masters on the other hand are very much going through a rebuilding phase and with the exception of Karl Lacey, Barry Dunnion and Barry Monaghan, are a very young side.
“They are doing well in Division Two of the league and are on the top of the table but they will find Gaoth Dobhair a big step up from any of the teams they have played so far this season.”
Neil and Eamon McGee sat out last Saturday evenings five point victory over St Eunan’s in O’Donnell Park, but are expected to back on board for Sunday’s showdown.
Former county minor and Downings player Kevin ‘Cookie’ Gallagher is the new manager of Four Masters. He replaced former Tyrone player Ciaran McBride, who stepped down before the end of last season.
Four Masters were relegated at the end of last season after losing to Bundoran in a play-off.
Karl Lacey, Barry Monaghan and Barry Dunnion missed last weekend’s one point win over Naomh Columba in Tir Chonaill Park. Michael Doherty was used from the bench.
This quartet are expected to be restored to the starting 15 for the trip to Magheragallon.
Verdict: Gaoth Dobhair