Donegal Ladies begin the defence of their Ulster Senior Championship crown on Saturday afternoon against neighbours Tyrone in Kingspan Breffni Park. (2.45 pm)
The game is the curtain-raiser to the Ulster Senior Championship meeting of Donegal and Tyrone.
It is a clash of a Division One side Donegal and Division Two side Tyrone but is still a tricky assignment for defeated Division One semi-finalists Donegal.
Donegal lost the semi-final to Galway after finishing up in fourth place in the Division One table on the back of five wins and two defeats.
Tyrone, last season’s All-Ireland Intermediate champions, had a poor league campaign in the second division. They won just two games and drew one to end up second from the bottom of the table.
“I wouldn’t read much into their league form because they had a very tough draw with four hard games away. They drew with Cavan away and lost to Wexford, Waterford and Clare and they were all very close games,” said Donegal manager Maxi Curran.
“They won the All-Ireland Intermediate championship last year. They beat Meath in the final and they lost the final the year before to Kildare so they are a pretty experienced team. It is a real tricky game for us and a real banana skin.
“It is a game we are expected to win and a game we should win but this is championship football and Tyrone have a lot of quality footballers in their squad.
“They are more experienced than our girls. We have a number of experienced players but we also have a number of young girls who are playing in their first Ulster championship game and before a big crowd which will be a new experience for them.”
The Donegal boss is happy enough the way preparations have gone even through club championship, Gaeltacht championships and exams have interrupted training at times over the last seven weeks since the league semi-final.
On the injury front Ciara Grant will play no part in the game. The St Eunans player is still sidelined with a long term hand injury while Carndonagh’s Deirdre Foley, though back in training, will also sit out Saturday’s game.
But otherwise the Donegal boss has reported a clean bill of health.
Donegal also go into the championship without their All-Star forward Yvonne Bonner playing with the Greater Western Sydney Swans in the Australian League, for the first time in a number of years.
“Initially when Yvonne went to Australia the understanding was she was going to return for the summer and the championship. But she has been signed for another year and is staying on in Australia and as a consequence we are not going to have her.
“Yvonne is a huge loss but we understand her situation and the reality is she has given such good service to the county she owes the county nothing and we all wish her continued success.”
Donegal go into the game as the firm favourites to advance to a final meeting with either Armagh or Monagahan who meet in the second semi-final on Sunday in the Athletic Grounds.