Donegal Schools open their account against Derry
Five weeks and a number of false starts later Donegal are finally hoping to get their Ulster Vocational Schools campaign up and running against Derry, in Steelstown, Derry City on Friday. (Throw in 2.30 pm)
The game was first fixed for December 10, but fell victim to the weather and a number of attempts in the following weeks also proved successful. But fingers crossed John Joe O'Shea and his charges finally take to the starting blocks and are bidding for place in the Ulster final.
Standing between them and a place in a fourth provincial decider in-a-row are a Derry side that made it through to the last four with a walkover against Down in the first round.
After a busy November and a number of challenge games with the county minors Donegal's preparations have been badly hit in the intervening period due to the severe weather. John Joe O'Shea got his squad together for the first time since early December on Sunday last.
However the frost took its toll and a training session in Naomh Conaill's gym had to be substituted for a challenge run out against Naomh Conaill's U-21s due a frozen Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
"The weather has really hampered our preparations and we have got little or no work done since the beginning of December, but it has been the same for Derry. Fortunately for us a good number of the squad have been training with their clubs and schools and a number of them been playing games and getting some football," said John Joe O' Shea.
O'Shea has seven of last year's team that reached the Ulster final and lost to Monaghan available to him. Patrick McBrearty, John O'Malley, Christopher McGlynn, Sean ‘the Yank' Boyle, Padraig Doherty, Barry Griffin and Dara White were all on board in 2009.
And it is these players along with new recruits Ryan McHugh, Matthew McClean, Martin O'Reilly, Sean McGarvey, Raymond McNamee and Seamus Ellis that O'Shea will backbone his side's challenge and book a place in yet another provincial final.
"We may not have got an awful lot of work done in recent weeks and the build up has not been the best but we have a good squad of players. Derry are an unknown quantity but I see they have played a number of challenge games in the last week or so. But if we can play to our potential I feel we are in with a great chance."
The winners will face either Tyrone or Monaghan in the final at the end of the month.
Donegal panel: Kevin McNern, Patrick McBrearty, Ryan McHugh, Matthew McClean (Carrick VS), Cian Kennedy (St. Catherine's), Barry Griffin, Lee McBrearty (Abbey VS), Marty O'Reilly, Rory Dunleavy, Gavin Gallagher, Andrew McCloskey (St. Columba's), Raymond McNamee, Oisin Porter (Deele College), Padraig Doherty, Dermot McGonagle, Dan McDaid, James Cooke (Carndonagh C.S.), Luke Barrett, Jimmy Coyle (Loreto Milford), Sean McGarvey (P.C.C. Falcarragh), Declan McGarvey, Anthony Blair, Michael Roarty (Pobal Scoil Gaoth Dobhair), Dara White, Sean Boyle, Christopher McGlynn (Rosses C.S), Jason Campbell, Seamus Ellis (Chu Uladh), John O'Malley, Brendan McNelis, Nicholas Breslin, Mark Gallagher (St. Columba's, Glenties).
Rosses player Jack Scally under pressure from Carrick's Christopher Doherty during this weeks final in Donegal Town. 1301cg27