Donegal put their Ulster title on the line when they go head-to-head with Monaghan in the Ulster Senior Ladies Championship semi-final on Saturday night in Healy Park, Omagh. (7 pm)
The game is a rematch of last year’s Ulster final won by Donegal on a 4-11 to 0-15 scoreline. It was only Donegal second Ulster senior crown.
Geraldine McLaughlin scored two of the Donegal goals in last year’s final with Yvonne Bonner and Roisin Friel netting the other two.
Donegal travel on Saturday with most of last year’s side still available.
Glenfin’s Grainne Houston and Shannon McGroddy are the only two absentees. McGroddy opted out of the squad at the start of the season while Houston opted off the squad at the end of Lidl Ladies League.
There has been a change in management too. Damian Devaney, who was number two to Micheál Naughton last season, has taken on the manager’s role along with Maxi Curran.
Curran is an All-Ireland Junior championship winner with Donegal and was also a member of Jim McGuinness’s 2012 All-Ireland winning Donegal backroom team. And he also worked alongside Rory Gallagher during his term in the Donegal hot seat.
“We have trained away nice and quietly since the end of the national league which is eight weeks ago now,” said Damian Devenney.
“We took a week off after the league and another week for the club championship but other than that we trained three times a week.
“We trained once during the week with the girls at home and we trained then twice at the weekend on Saturday and Sundays when all the girls were home from college.
Donegal also defeated Monaghan in the league earlier in the season, emerging four point winners at the end of a tough battle.
“Monaghan were very defensive in the league and I’m expecting them to be the same on Saturday evening.”
Donegal are boosted by the return Olive McCafferty, who missed last year’s championship run, while Therese McCafferty is fully fit again after missing the league campaign with concussion.
Kate Keaney, who also missed the league, has regained full fitness again.
Sarah Jane McDonnell from Moville is also new to the squad and will be pushing for a place on the starting team on the back of a good Lidl National League campaign.
Donegal are an experienced side with 2017 All-Stars Ciara and Niamh Hegarty, 2010 All-Star Yvonne Bonner, Geraldine McLaughlin, Karen Guthrie, Katy Herron, Emer Gallagher, Aoife McDonald, Nicole McLaughlin and Therese Doherty backboning the starting fifteen.
Donegal had a good league campaign, where they missed out on a place in the knockout stages on score average.
Monaghan won just once in the league and finished up second from the bottom just above relegated Kerry.