Donegal minor manager, Shaun Paul Barrett, is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to take his side all the way to an All-Ireland final.
Barrett’s charges take on Galway in Croke Park on Sunday in the semi-final (1.30) and the Milford native is happy that they are more than good enough to succeed.
It has been one big game after another for this minor team and just like he was saying before every single game this year, Barrett is again emphasising the quality of his team.
“We are delighted to be in the position we are and if we get our players onto the field in good form, then we will be very competitive.
“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.
What has really shone through about the 2016 minor team, is their resilience when under pressure and they have finished their games very well.
They have been tested in every one of their four games to date, but they have responded magnificently against Antrim in Corrigan Park in May; then against Monaghan when it seemed they had the game won at half-time, only for Monaghan to come back strongly. In the Ulster final and again in the All-Ireland quarter final against Derry and Cork respectively, they trailed by four and five points, but goals at vital stages have been important and on both days, they really came good in the second half.
But the manager has a different view of the slow start, especially against Cork in the quarter-final: “We have watched the video of that game and we would have been happy with our overall play in the first 15 minutes. We created five good scoring chances, but we did not take them,” said Barrett, who felt there was a certain amount of nerves playing in Croke Park for the first time.
The Donegal boss said he had a clean bill of health, apart from a few niggles, but knows that he has a very strong panel with 8/9 ready to come in if needed. “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.
“We have players to bring in and who can make a difference if called upon,” said the Donegal manager.
The manager is hoping that having experienced Croke Park, the team can hit the field running. “We should be more adapted to it, but it is still a big occasion. There probably won’t be a big crowd in for the minor game until the second half,” he said.
The Donegal manager admits he has little knowledge of opponents, Galway. “They played their quarter-final at the same time as us. We have watching videos of their games and they are a big, strong, physical team.
“They created a lot of chances against Laois and three great forwards, who are top quality,” said Barrett, mentioning Finnerty and Conneely in the full-forward line and Evan Murphy at centre-forward.
When told that they had just four scorers in their big win over Laois, Barrett said: “Those players have been the ones that have been scoring in all their games. Their threat was known but teams were not able to curb them.
“We played Mayo in a couple of challenge games and there wasn’t much in tem, but Galway beat them easily (in the Connacht final).”
But at the end of the day, Barrett is confidence that if his team can give a performance, then they will be close. “We can take a lot of confidence from our performances over the year. They have done everything that we have asked of them. All we can ask them now is to leave everything on the field.
“Getting to the final is a massive incentive for any team,” said Barrett.