Donegal Master footballers are on the trophy trail this weekend when they face Offaly in the All-Ireland Masters Shield final.
The game is in Kilkerrin/Clonberne, Galway with a throw-in time of 1.30 pm and is the curtain raiser to the Masters Premier final.
The premier final is between Cavan and Mayo and both finals are live on Irish TV, the main sponsors of the Masters football championship. Both games are being televised live on Irish TV, Channel 191 and Freesat 400.
Donegal have played four games on their way to Saturday’s final. They defeated Antrim and Westmeath, received a walkover against Leitrim and Monaghan and lost to Cavan and Tyrone.
John McNulty from Kilcar is the Donegal manager with Darragh Dolan, Bundoran, his number two.
The 31 man squad is made up of former county seniors Eamonn Doherty from Ardara and St. Eunan’s John Haran - who just turned 40 last weekend; and a number of players that played county minor and U-21.
These include, Kevin McGettigan, Kevin ‘Cookie’ Gallagher, Shaun Boyce - all members of the 1991 Ulster championship winning Donegal minor team; Val Murray, Paul Gallagher, Adrian McGettigan (Termon), and Martin McShane, Ardara.
The rest of the squad is made up of a number of the leading club players at various grades in the county over the last 20 plus years. And all of them are still lining out for their clubs.
David McShane, Daniel Branley, Charlie Doherty and Charlie Gallagher were members of the Irish International team that played in two test games against Australia recently.
Gerard McGrenra, a member of the Glenswilly squad that defeated Kilcar in the county championship final, is the team captain.
“We’ve a very good squad of players and they have given a huge commitment ever since we first came together a couple of months ago,” John McNulty, told the Democrat.
“I have nothing but the height of respect for them and I never cease to be amazed at the amount of commitment and effort they have put in since day one.
“We are very unfortunate not to be contesting the premier final as I feel we should have won the two games we lost.
“Especially the Cavan game. I feel we were particularly hard done by against Cavan. They beat us by a point and we had a perfectly good point waved wide in what was a definite hometown decision.
“If the point had been allowed we probably would have gone on and won that game and at least got a draw which would have been enough to see us qualify for the premier semi-final.
“Instead Cavan went through and they are now in the final against Mayo.”
Donegal defeated Westmeath last time out in the semi-final a couple of weeks ago. Donegal won that game 0-15 to 0-12 with Shaun Boyce (0-6), Daniel Branley (0-4), Gerard McGrenra (0-2) and Sean McDaid (0-1) the scorers.
John Haran missed the semi-final but is available again for Saturday’s showdown against the Faithful County.
“We have everybody and all going well between now and the final we will have a fully fit squad for the final,” said the Donegal boss.
Offaly are reported to be a good side and no more than Donegal are by all accounts a little unlucky not to have qualified for the premier final.
They have up to six of the last Offaly team to win the Leinster Championship in 1996, among them Roy Malone and John Kenny.
Malone and Kenny were also member of the Irish team that played against the visiting Australians.