Donegal U-17s face Tyrone in first round of Special Ulster competition

Donegal U-17s face Tyrone in first round of Special Ulster competition
By Diarmaid Doherty @dgldemocrat

Two weeks on from their Ulster U-17 McGuigan Cup final meeting, Donegal and Tyrone go into battle again this Saturday in the first round of the Ulster U-17 championship.

They meet in Healy Park, Omagh at 12 noon.

It’s another daunting test for Francie Friel’s side who meet a Tyrone team who are favourites to win the provincial crown at this age category.

It’ll be the third meeting of these neighbouring counties in six weeks. Donegal won with a late goal in the Ulster U-17 League in Garvaghey back at the end of March.

Last Saturday week, Tyrone proved too strong in the league final, winning 0-15 to 0-7.

It was a day where Tyrone were convincing winners and looked the more cohesive and better drilled outfit.

Donegal’s preparations for Saturday have been boosted by the inclusion in the match-day squad of three members of the minor panel who are also underage for the U-17s. Shane McDevitt (Glenswilly), Conor McHugh (Milford) and Fionn Gallagher (Naomh Columba) are all likely to start on Saturday as Friel and his management team plot the downfall of Tyrone.

“It’s a big game but we had a good campaign in the league and we did well,” Friel said this week.

“We’d six games altogether when you include the semi-final with Down and then the final with Tyrone.

“They (Tyrone) beat us well that day and they’ll be strong favourites to win this weekend.

“It’s a big task to go to Healy Park and to try and win. But that’s what we’ve got to do and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s a winner takes all clash for both teams, so there’s plenty at stake.”

Jamie Crawford of Four Masters scored the late goal which gave Donegal victory when the sides met in the league. He’ll likely feature again on Saturday in a team where the likes of Conor O’Donnell (St. Eunan’s), Mark McAteer (Fanad Gaels), Oisin Bonner (Dungloe) will carry Donegal’s scoring threat.