Christy Toye . . . back for St. Michael's
St Michael’s are the overwhelming favourites going into Saturday evening’s quarter-final tie with last year’s Intermediate champions Burt in O’Donnell Park. (6 pm).
The favourites’ tag is something that does not really bother St Michael’s manager, Michael Kelly.
“We were favourites too for all the Group games and we will be favourites again against Burt, and to be honest it is not something we think about before a game,” said Kelly
St Michael’s recorded three straight wins in Group A with away wins over Malin and MacCumhaill’s and a home win over Bundoran.
“We are aware what Burt are capable of. It’s been a long time since they lost a championship game.
“They won the Intermediate championship last season and they won two of their games in the group and drew the other. They are a good side and will be full of confidence and we are going to have to play well to get the result.
“Being favourites will mean nothing once the ball is throw in.
“We are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. And that is what we are preparing to do.”
St Michael’s have clocked up big scores on their way to topping Group A.
They defeated Malin 6-12 to 1-10 in their final game. Bundoran gave them their tightest test as they had only three points to spare at the end of that game at the Bridge, Dunfanaghy.
But they still chalked up 1-15 to Bundoran’s 2-9 and they hit 3-9 in their five point win over MacCumhaill in Ballybofey.
Colm McFadden and Daniel McLaughlin have been blowing out the lights up front for St Michael’s, who have been boosted by the return of Christy Toye in recent weeks.
“Colm is playing well and Christy is only getting back into it and is improving with every game. But the whole squad are working really hard and putting in a huge effort.
“The only downside is that we have a few injuries. Michael Cannon is definitely out with a quad injury and Michael Langan is struggling to recover from an ankle injury picked up in the Bundoran game.
“We haven’t given up on not having him but we won’t know for definite until later in the week.”
Burt last year’s Intermediate champions take an unbeaten three game run into Saturday evening’s meeting.
“We’re in bonus territory,” said Burt manager Ronan McLaughlin.
But McLaughlin, a dual player and a former Ulster Minor Championship winner with Donegal, is also relishing the challenge of taking on one of the big guns in Donegal football.
However, he is also a little concerned that his team was showing signs of tiredness in a weekend league game away to Naomh Muire.
Eight of his starting 15 are also dual players and have had a hectic couple of weeks between football and hurling.
“St Michael’s are fantastic team but we are going up to O’Donnell Park on Saturday evening to win.”
It will be a major upset if St Michael’s are not looking forward to the semi-final draw after Saturday evening’s tie with Burt.
This is a Division One versus Division Three clash.
Christy Toye has returned after a lengthy layoff with illness and is improving with every outing. Colm McFadden has lost none of old flair up front and Daniel McLaughlin, who has been dogged by injury in recent seasons, is enjoying a rich vein of form.
And Martin McElhinney has been driving them on from the middle of the field.
Burt have up to six players - Paul and Sean McHugh, Mark Coyle, Conor Harkin, Stephen O’Donnell and Georgie Kelly - that would walk onto any of the top senior teams in the county.
Up to eight of the starting 15 are dual players with Ciaran Dowds, Mickey McCann, Enda McDermott (a former county minor footballer), Stephen Gillespie, Dara Grant, Christopher McDermott, Joe Boyle and Ronan McDermott have all played senior hurling for Donegal.
VERDICT: St Michael’s