High stakes for Donegal and Tyrone hurlers in Division 3A final

Division 3B final - Celtic Park, Derry - Saturday 2 p.m.

High stakes for Donegal and Tyrone hurlers in Division 3A final

The stakes are high when Donegal and Tyrone meet in the Allianz Hurling Division 3A final, in Celtic Park, Derryon Saturday. (2 pm)

The Division 3A title is not the only prize up for grabs on Saturday on the banks of the Shannon.

The even bigger reward of playing in Division 2B next season is also on offer for this weekend’s winners.

And Donegal, who played in 2B the season before last, want to get back up to the higher level again.

The game was originally fixed for Carrick-on-Shannon but was changed on Wednesday to Derry's Celtic Park, a much more convenient venue for both teams.

However, Donegal manager, Ardal McDermott was not worried about travelling to the Leitrim venue. 

“We were offered a toss of the coin to decide the venue, Donegal or Tyrone.

“But after last Wednesday week’s game (in Garvaghy) I would not being happy going to Tyrone again.

“Rory McGann from Clare is the referee and is by all accounts a good referee. He refereed last year’s Clare senior hurling final.”

Donegal finished the hotly contested encounter with Tyrone in Garvaghy with 12 players. Tyrone ended the game with 13.

Lee Henderson and Jack O’Loughlin (straight red cards), Joe Boyle (two yellows) were the Donegal men to make the long walk.

Justin Kelly and Peadar Daly were the Tyrone players sent for early showers.

Tyrone won the game by two points, 1-12 to 1-10, thanks to 1-5 from Damien Casey and four points from Ger Grogan.

Davin Flynn, the scoring sensation of the campaign, again top scored for Donegal with 0-8 and Stephen Gillespie netted the goal.

And former Tipperary intermediate player Flynn was on fire as he posted 2-8 in Donegal’s 2-14 to 0-15, win over the Red Hands in O’Donnell Park, back at the beginning of the month.

Flynn has been the ace in the Donegal pack in this campaign and has so far scored 6-35 in six games.

“Davin is a fabulous hurler and is playing really well but all the lads have stepped up and are playing well.

“Danny Cullen had probably his best ever game on Sunday against Louth. Niall Cleary and Joe Boyle were in top form on Sunday as well and I can go through the whole team, they are all playing well and I feel we are in a good place right now.

“Fitness levels are very high. We brought Paul Fisher on board at the start of the year and the boys are all in great physical condition.”

Nevertheless, the Donegal boss is expecting a tough challenge from the Red Hands, who recovered from losing two of their three opening games, to qualify for the final with a 3-15 to 1-14 away win over Monaghan last weekend.

Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan, ended the league league level on eight points with Donegal in the top position and Tyrone in second place by virtue of score average.

“It is going to be a tight battle with Tyrone, but one were are looking forward too,” insisted the Donegal boss.

“We’ve had a few tight battles with Tyrone in recent years and there has never been more than a puck of a ball between us in any of those games, and I expect it will be no different on Sunday.”

Enda McDermott (illness) and Kevin Campbell, broken ribs suffered against Monaghan, the weekend before last, are out of the reckoning for Saturday’s showdown.

But the good news is Jack O’Loughlin and Lee Henderson are back from serving one match bans and Dara Grant and Declan Coulter are expected back from injury.

Verdict: Donegal