Donegal hurlers ready for Armagh in Nicky Rackard Cup

Donegal hurlers ready for Armagh in Nicky Rackard Cup

Tom Comack @dgldemocrat

Donegal senior hurling manager Ardal McDermott has made no secret of the fact that after promotion in the league, Donegal’s next target was the Nicky Rackard Cup.

So much so that Donegal withdrew from their Ulster Senior Hurling Championship Shield final meeting with Down last Sunday.

“We sought a postponement of last weekend’s game against Down, but we had no joy on that front. The Ulster Council insisted that it went ahead.

“We did propose alternative dates but to no avail so we decided the best thing to do in the interest of the players and the team was to withdraw from the championship.

“It was a stance we did not like taking but we were left with no choice. We needed a break and give lads time to recover from injury and to recharge the batteries ahead of the Nicky Rackard.

“If we had gone ahead with the game and counting this weekend’s game it meant we would have played 11 games in the last 12 weeks. Simply that wasn’t on.”

Armagh, Monaghan, Tyrone, Louth and Derry are the other teams setting out this weekend in pursuit of the Nicky Rackard Cup.

“The Nicky Rackard Cup is very competitive and you have to be ready for it.

“Instead of the game we had a training session on Saturday down in Dunfanaghy at the St Michael’s ground and we also trained on the beach.

“The session went very well and the boys all enjoyed it and we had a good meeting afterwards and overall it was a very positive day.”

After the weekend the Donegal manager has reported a clean bill of health for Saturday’s showdown.

“Thankfully all the injuries have cleared up and everybody is good to go for Saturday.

“Declan Coulter, Bernard Lafferty and Ciaran Finn all had been carrying knocks but they all came through the weekend and are fit for Saturday and everybody else are good to go.”

Armagh, Donegal’s opponents on Saturday, had also sought a postponement of their Ulster final meeting with Antrim.

And like Donegal, the Orchard County’s request fell on deaf ears and they suffered a heavy 5-22 to 1-12 defeat by Antrim in Owenbeg.

Antrim defeated Donegal 3-24 to 1-10 the previous Sunday in the championship semi-final.

But despite Armagh’s big defeat, Ardal McDermott is still expecting a massive challenge.

“Our record against Armagh isn’t great. They’ve had the upperhand against us in the last few years. And albeit they were relegated in the league, they played in Division 2A last season, two divisions above us.

“But it is the game we have been looking forward to all year. The lads are really in confident mood after a good league run and the fact we are at home in O’Donnell Park should be worth a few points to us.”