BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Big game on Saturday for both Donegal and Cork

Next Saturday’s game in Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork is a very important game for both counties.

For Donegal it is both a promotion and relegation issue, while for Cork it is a do or die game. It is their last home game and they have Armagh away in the final game.

A win for Donegal and they could be in the running for promotion but they will need other results to go their way.

So there is a lot to play for. We need to get to Division One if we are to get the platform for our young players to improve. Word on the ground is that Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee are ready to go, while Gaoth Dobhair midfielder Dáire Ó Baoill may also be close.

News that Martin McElhinney has left the panel is disappointing, as he was man of the match on his first game back this year. Then when you think about it, we are not coming down with midfield options.

Donegal’s performance the last day against Armagh was a big improvement. It was against an Armagh side that were pretty cynical and it was also achieved on a very difficult night for football.

Our record against Cork has been very good over the years. We have been able to deal with them and the way they play, but we must also give them the respect. They will be up for the game and although they have been in the dumps in recent times, their win away to Tipperary last time out will have given them hope of avoiding the drop to Division Three. They are a proud county and will not want to make that drop, so Donegal better be ready.

If we can win this game, we are in the hunt, especially as Fermanagh have a difficult away game in Armagh and they are being taken to Crossmaglen for that game, which is an intimidating venue.

It could be all to play for in the final game when Donegal have Kildare in Ballyshannon. Hopefully, there will be a good Donegal support in Cork. I know that the bus from Donegal is leaving very early on Saturday and it is a long journey. Hopefully, Donegal supporters in the southern half of the country will make the journey to Cork to give the side some vocal support. Cork will not have big support and it could be a help to have a good Donegal support there.

Before I leave the Armagh game, I have to mention the incident involving the stamp on Eoghan Bán Gallagher. It was a cold, wet night and it could have done a lot of damage. I hear that the Armagh player has got banned for two matches and there needs to be a deterrent for that type of offence.

CLUB LEAGUES

We are only a few weeks away from club football getting up and running in the county again and the fixtures were released last week. That will give players who are hoping to make an impression an platform to push for places on the match day squads and starting places.

The county’s U-16s and U-17s are already in action with two games played. The U-17s were given a reality check on Saturday when they were beaten by Tyrone in Strabane, but news of the U-16s is better, as they overcame the Tyrone men in Ardboe by a point, a great result.

Finally, commiserations to the county’s hurling team, who went down to Warwickshire in the Division 2B relegation play-off in Longford on Saturday. It seems that they had enough chances to win the game but just couldn’t put them over the bar and paid the price. They also conceded two soft goals, which didn’t help their cause. Hopefully, Mickey McCann can lift this group before they take part in the Christy Ring Cup in the coming months.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell