Donegal champions Setanta are in Ulster Junior Hurling Championship action this Sunday when they face Ballela, Down, in O’Donnell Park. (Throw-in 2.30pm)
It is the Donegal champions’ first foray into Ulster in nine seasons.
Setanta last played in Ulster and made it all the way to the final in 2008. It was the club’s second final appearance in-a-row. They also reached the final the year before, in 2007, but also lost. Bredagh from Down were their conquerors in 2007 and they lost to Lisbellaw from Fermanagh in 2009.
“Unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of the result in both finals,” said Setanta manager Paul Campbell.
“An Ulster title is the target again this year. But we are up against a very strong Ballela on Sunday.
“I was up at the Down final last Sunday and they came from seven points down with a quarter of an hour to go against Clonduff, to win by a couple of points.
“They are a strong outfit and they have three men in the Down squad and two of them regularly make the team.”
Setanta defeated St Eunan’s in the Donegal final two weeks ago.
Colm Melaugh scored the goal and Declan Coulter hit 0-8, Kevin Campbell, 0-4, Danny Cullen, Bernard Lafferty, Mark Kane, Sean Anderson 0-1 each in their 1-16 to 1-8 win over St Eunan’s.
“We gave them the Monday night after the final off but we were back training on the Wednesday night after the final.
“We had no complaints and we have trained three times a week since. We had 27 at training on Monday night and that was with a few lads away at College.
“The lads are really up for it and they want to do well in Ulster and that begins on Sunday against Ballela, which is going to be a very stiff test.
“The good thing is it is a home game for us in Letterkenny which is worth a couple of points. The lads also like playing in O’Donnell Park. ”
Setanta will be without the experienced Justin McBride. However, the manager hasn’t given up hope on having the wily James Callaghan.
Callaghan missed the county final with a knee injury but has responded well to treatment in the last two weeks.
“James won’t be far away, but this weekend’s game may be a week too soon for him. I’m not ruling him out just yet, but if we win on Sunday I would expect to have him for the semi-final.
“Justin used up all his leave to get off for the final. He is in the army and he has to work this weekend so he is definitely out of the frame.
“He is a loss, but we have a good big squad and I’m confident we have a number men that can come in and do a job for us.”