Donegal hurling championship semi-finals take spotlight this weekend

Donegal hurling championship semi-finals take spotlight this weekend

Donegal hurling champions, Setanta, put their county title on the line on Saturday evening when they face St Eunan's in the senior hurling championship semi-final in O'Donnell Park.

The game forms a a mouthwatering double bill with Burt facing Sean MacCumhaill’s in the other semi-final as the race for the Munster Cup hots up.

As anticipated the four have come through the group stages and going on the evidence of the group games, there is little between the four teams according to former championship winner and Donegal manager, Ray Durack.

"The group games did not show us much but Burt and Setanta are big teams and will go into the weekend's games as favourites,” said Ray Durack, who was part of a dominant Burt side at the turn of the millennium.

"But I believe Mac Cumhaill’s and St Eunan's are capable of upsetting the odds.

"If you look at Burt, they have county men Joe Boyle, Christopher and Ronan McDermott, Enda McDermott and Caolan McDaid and they have a crop of good young hurlers.

"MacCumhaill’s have Lee Henderson, Jamesie Donnelly, Ciaran Mathewson and Gerard Gilmore, all county men.”

The two were in the same group in the round robin stages of the championship. Burt won the group game pulling up 5-22 to 1-10.

"I'm not sure if we should read too much into that game. It was the last of the group games and they both had already qualified for the semi-final and it was probably a case they did not show their hand.

"The defeat means they avoided playing Setanta in the semi-final something they might not have wanted.

"Burt are in transition but they still have a few wise old heads like Jude (Niall) Campbell. Niall is still playing well and if he gets a decent supply he is capable of a match winning performance. You would have to fancy Burt.

"But if MacCumhaill’s all have a good day they are capable of causing an upset. The one thing you can be sure of it will be a lot closer than the group game."

Star-studded Setanta, the champions, go toe to toe with St Eunan's in a repeat of last year's county final.

“Setanta are the team. They have county men Davin Flynn from Tipperary and Declan Coulter from Armagh.

“They are two big players and of course they also have Danny Cullen who is right up there with the best hurlers ever in the county.

“They also have Kevin Campbell and Bernard Lafferty, two more county men and overall are a very strong side.

"But St Eunan's have a good young side mixed with a number of seasoned and experienced players and they will be quietly confident.

“They stayed with Setanta for up to 45 minutes in last year’s final before Setanta pulled away in the last ten minutes or so.

"Sean McVeigh had a good season with the county and he is playing well for the club. Eugene Organ is back playing and is playing very well too and Conor O'Donnell is playing good hurling and now that Donegal are finished they may have Niall O'Donnell back which would be a big boost. Niall is a very good hurler and they will take heart from last year’s final and are a better team this season. But like MacCumhaill’s, they are going to have to play out of their skins and everything is going to have to go right for them, if they are to beat Setanta."