BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Donegal players will have to go into the fire against Tyrone if they are to win

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Donegal players will have to go into the fire against Tyrone if they are to win

I have never looked forward as much to a game in Ballybofey as I am to next Sunday’s clash with Tyrone.

It is a huge game. The prize is a huge one for the winners with a place in the All-Ireland semi-final up for grabs.

Tyrone are a very good side and we have a quality side too and there is very little between the two teams.

It will all come down to desire and hunger and who wants a place in the All-Ireland semi-final the most.

It is great to have the game at home. MacCumhaill Park is worth three or four points to us.

But it will be only worth the three to four points if we perform on the day. We are going to have to up our intensity levels a couple of notches and much higher than we have produced so far in the campaign.

We are going to have to vary our play from route one football with Michael Murphy on the edge of the square to the running game.

And on top of all that men will have to go into the fire like they have never done before and anyone who is not going into the fire should be hauled off. It will be no game for the faint hearted.

Route one football should not mean just lofting the ball in on top of Michael Murphy. It must be quality ball because he is going to be double and probably treble marked. That is why the quality has to be good. If Michael receives good ball he will win it regardless how many Tyrone men are hanging out of him.

Jamie Brennan and Odhran MacNiallais will have to hoover up around Michael and be available for him to lay off ball.

Jamie will also have to up his scoring rate. He is playing well and is having a good campaign but he is going to have to, in the absence of Patrick McBrearty, to up his scoring rate.

If we play the running game we are going to have to run at them at pace and have men running off the shoulder and it is also a must we break the line.

We also have to be alert to Tyrone’s game. They like to break at pace. Wing backs Tiernan McCann and Peter Harte have serious pace and have been punishing teams all season. rank Burns has come in at centre half-back and he likes to get forward too and he has kicked big scores in their campaign.

Richard Donnelly has been a great find for them at full-forward this season and Niall Sludden is a real player maker at centre-forward. Connor McAliskey has been chalking up big scores and Ronan O’Neill, who is a class forward, has been used as a substitute to great effect.

The loss of Eoghan Bán Gallagher is immeasurable. He has been a huge player for us this season.

But it is good to have Neil McGee back and playing well. His return does go some way to softening the loss of Eoghan Bán. Frank McGlynn is playing like as if time has stood still and is playing as well as ever.

Leo McLoone and Hugh McFadden are a good solid midfield and Ryan McHugh, though now very much a marked man, is back to his best again. Ryan was a worthy winner of the Ulster GAA Writers’ Player of the month for June.

It’s a huge game and as I see it, it is a 50/50 game and it will all come down to who is willing to put the hand in the fire.

It is a great opportunity to qualify for the All-Ireland semi-final. We will never get a better one.


Well done to the Donegal ladies, who had another win albeit it a narrow one, against Kerry on Saturday and are now looking forward to an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Armagh.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.