Donegal should not fear Dublin and they are more than capable of downing the reigning champions when the two giants collide on Saturday evening in Croke Park.
That is the view former Donegal star midfielder of the 1950s and ‘60s, Sean Ferriter, who was a mentor when Donegal won their first All-Ireland in 1992.
The former Donegal and Ulster midfielder and Dunfanaghy native, who played club football for Dungloe and St Eunan’s, is now a Dublin resident. But he has been impressed with Donegal under Declan Bonner.
“I have been at every game from day one this year. I was in Killarney for the first league game of the season against Kerry,” said Ferriter, who turns 80 in September.
“They should have won that game and they should have beaten Galway in O’Donnell Park. I also saw them in the McKenna Cup final against Tyrone.
“I was very impressed with them in all their games in the league with the exception of the Kildare in Ballyshannon. I know they won that game but I thought it was their poorest performance and they were lucky to win.
“I thought we were very slack at the back in the Kildare game. But they have really tightened up in defence since that game.
“Karl Lacey must have got down to work on the defence after that game because they have really improved at the back since that Kildare game.”
“Donegal have a lot of quality players. Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh and Frank McGlynn are quality players and they have a lot of quality young players that have come through as well.
“Ciaran Thompson, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Michael Langan, Jamie Brennan and Paul Brennan are also quality players.”
The former midfielder has also been very impressed by new goalkeeper Shaun Patton and particular his long kickouts.
A critic of the short kickout he also feels that Donegal are not taking full advantage of the keeper’s extraordinary long punts out the field.
“I’m totally against short kickouts and if I had my way they would be banned. But why should you be taking short kickouts when you have a ‘keeper that can reach the opposition’s half of the field, automatically you are in your opponent’s territory.
“The ‘keeper kicked a number of long kickouts in the first half in the Ulster final and they almost reached the Fermanagh ‘45’ and we did not win them. They were mopped up by the Fermanagh defenders instead.
“It looked to me as if Donegal were not prepared for it. It is definitely something we should work on and it is a tremendous asset when you have it. I always believe you should play to your strengths.
“It is good to see Leo McLoone back and playing well again. Leo is a physically strong player and he gets through a lot of unseen work in the course of a game.”
The Dunfanaghy native acknowledges that Patrick McBrearty is a huge loss to Donegal and that it is very unfortunate for Patrick himself who was having a fine season.
“McBrearty is a huge loss. He was playing very well and is one of the top forwards in the country. I watched him against Dublin in the league game in Croke Park and he had a very good game that night.
“He kicked seven points that night and four of them were from play. Dublin had no answer to him that night.
“They would really fear him and that is why he is such a loss as well because they would double mark him which would leave somebody else free.”
Sean Ferriter’s playing days in a Donegal jersey spanned three decades, the 1950s,’60s and ‘70s. He played continuously from 1957 to 1970 and came out of retirement in 1975 to play for one final season.
In all his time in the green and gold jersey he only recalls once playing Dublin and that was in a challenge game in Parnell Park.
Resident in Dublin for well over 50 years, Sean watches Dublin on a regular basis. He rates the current Dublin team highly and says their record speaks for itself.
“They have won the last three All-Irelands. They have dominated Leinster for well over the last ten years and have been a real force. Mayo have ran them close in the last few years and Donegal are the last team to beat them in the championship.
“They are a formidable side and playing very good football. But Donegal are playing good football too. Donegal ran up big scores in their wins over Cavan, Derry, Down and Fermanagh in Ulster.
“Donegal have no reason to fear Dublin. They still have a number of the players from 2014 and the young lads have won Ulster minor and U-21 as well as senior and they have beaten Dublin in a minor semi-final.
“Donegal have the players all over the field to really worry Dublin and I do honestly believe even without Patrick McBrearty Donegal will put it up to Dublin.”
As for Donegal’s two other games in the Super 8s, against Roscommon and Tyrone, Sean Ferriter believes Roscommon in Hyde Park is the sticker of the two and the one that will pose Declan Bonner and his charges the biggest challenge.