It is a last stand for Donegal hurlers on Saturday when they face London in a Christy Ring Cup Championship relegation play-off in St Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen. (Throw-in 1 pm)
Donegal’s crushing defeat at the hands of Down last Saturday in O’Donnell Park, finally sealed Donegal’s fate and consigned them to a play-off to retain their status in the Christy Ring Championship.
This followed defeats by Wicklow and Derry with Saturday’s 22 point defeat the heaviest of their three outings. They lost to Wicklow by six points in O’Donnell Park and they ran Derry to three points in Owenbeg.
“It was by far our heaviest defeat after two close games and we are pretty brittle this week,” said Donegal manager Mickey McCann.
“We knew going into last weekend’s game that we could not match Down man to man and the game plan was to harry and crowd them out but that did not happen as it did against Wicklow and Derry.
“We are going to have to go back to that game plan against London because again they are a decent side and were in the final of the Christy Ring last year.
“I know they didn’t win a game in the championship and were relegated from Division 2A without winning a game either. But they are still a decent enough side and they only lost by three points to Kildare last weekend having been three up with five minutes left in the game.
“They have been playing at a higher level in both the league and the championship for the last few years and they are going to be a tough challenge. But if we implement the game plan we feel we will be in with a good chance. We know the importance of the game and the importance of staying in the Christy Ring championship. It really is one last stand.”
Danny Cullen, the team captain and wing forward Ciaran Finn are receiving treatment of hamstring tweaks this week and did not train on Tuesday night.
But the manager is confident enough they will be fit to face London.
“Danny came off on Saturday with a slight tweak of the hamstring and he did not train on Tuesday night. Ciaran was also complaining of a tweak after Saturday’s game and did not train on Tuesday.
“But the physio feels they will be fine come Saturday, so fingers crossed.”
Ace marksman Lee Henderson was only used as a second half replacement against Down but has recovered fully from a back injury. The MacCumhaills man trained on Tuesday night and is good to start on Saturday.
However, Declan Coulter, Donegal’s leading marksman in the league still remains sidelined with a knee injury and will take no part in the game.
The winners of Saturday’s play-off will play in the Christy Ring Championship next season while the losers will drop down to the Nicky Rackard Championship.