Donegal Oscar Traynor manager, Raymond Shields, takes his side to McSharry Park, Sligo this Saturday night to take on the Sligo Leitrim League in their second gave in the competition, knowing that a draw will be enough to progress.
Indeed, a draw will be enough for Donegal to top the group and in doing so secure a home draw for the quarter-final.
Donegal defeated Inishowen League in their first outing at Ballyare by 2-1 and on Sunday last, the Inishowen League had a big 3-0 win over Sligo Leitrim.
The Donegal boss, Shields, was at Maginn Park, Buncrana on Sunday to witness the win but while he felt Inishowen were the better side, Sligo will still provide a stiff test for Donegal this Saturday night.
“Inishowen were the better team from start to finish but Sligo were very stubborn in defence and were difficult to break down. I’m told that they were also missing a few players, so we will be taking nothing for granted on Saturday night,” says Shields.
The importance of winning the group is not lost on the Donegal manager. “Topping the table means we would have a home draw in the quarter-final which is very important.”
In his first year in the job, Shields has assembled a very strong panel, probably one of the most experienced panels that the Donegal League has fielded in some time.
“It is all about the clubs,” says Shields. “There is fierce quality there and this year the clubs are all 100% behind us. There are loads of players with League of Ireland experience with former Harps player, Kevin McHugh, as our captain,” said the manager, who also pointed to the fact that they had a big number of underage players who have come through the ranks including his own son, Ryan.
“I would be very, very happy with the panel we have Myself and Wizzy (Sean McGowan), Con Ferry and Mickey McGlynn have prepared well. We needed to do that against Inishowen because you always have to be up for the game against Inishowen.
“We are lucky to have such a good panel but at the end of the day you are only as good as last match. At the moment we haven’t qualified, and Inishowen have (after their 3-0 win on Sunday).
“The pressure is back on us and we won’t be taking Sligo for granted. But on the other hand it is a good position to be in. We have to put in that effort to get over the line. It will be a tight game and we have to knuckle down.
“There is a good atmosphere in the dressing room, full of leaders and the incentive is there for us to get the result.
“It would be a brilliant Christmas present, to be looking forward to a quarter-final in the New Year.
“But we are not there yet,” cautioned Shields.
Donegal League panel
Christopher O’ Donnell
Kevin Mc Hugh