BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: The die is cast for Donegal and so to Super 8s

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: The die is cast for Donegal and so to Super 8s

The die is now cast. The final line-up in our Super 8 group was completed at the weekend with Meath and Mayo joining ourselves and Kerry in the group.

We now have Meath at home next weekend, Kerry in Croke Park the following Sunday, and two weeks later, Mayo in Castlebar.

Let me first of all say there are no easy games and anyone who would think otherwise would be foolish to do so.

We are now down to the business end of the championship with the eight best teams in the country left in the competition.

Our group is a particularly tough one and most would argue the toughest of the two because it contains three heavyweights, Donegal, the Ulster champions, Kerry, the Munster champions and Mayo, still a side to be reckoned with.

We will find that Meath will be no slouches either.

With two sides qualifying for the semi-finals, one of the big hitters is going to miss out.

We begin with Meath at home on Sunday in Ballybofey. This is a must win game for Declan Bonner and the boys. And as we have already seen from our two games with Meath so far this season, both in the league, they will be a tough nut to crack.

It took a late goal from Caolan McGonagle back in February to revive us and eventually see us take the win by two points in the league. It was a game Meath should have won, albeit we had no Michael Murphy or Patrick McBrearty.

But they were down a few men too.

We then have Kerry in Croke Park and there is a lot of chat that they are not playing well. They are Munster champions and as we seen at the weekend with Cork’s big win over Laois, Kerry beat a decent Cork outfit in the Munster final.

And besides Kerry teams always play well in Croke Park.

We then have Mayo in Castlebar and as we saw at the weekend as they overcame their neighbours Galway, they haven’t gone away.

Back to Meath - I was very impressed with their half-back line in Ballybofey back in February. They caused us a lot of problems.

But I notice that only one of those players played against Clare in Sunday’s qualifier. Donal Keoghan was the centre half-back in Ballybofey. He was at wing back against Clare.

They have a very strong midfield pairing in Shane McEntee and Bryan Menton.

Mickey Newman is their main go to man for scores up front and Cillian O’Sullivan and Graham O’Reilly are very pacey forwards. They had a young lad in the left corner forward position - I hadn’t seen him before - Thomas McGovern, he looks a tricky customer.

Two points was the margin between the two when we met in the Division Two League final back at the end of March.

But the two teams were both promoted.

Looking at Meath against Clare, they seemed to have laid the ghost of the big defeat at the hands of Dublin in the Leinster final.

While Clare were unlucky not to get at least a draw on Sunday, Meath were the better team over the 70-plus minutes.

They will come to Ballybofey on Sunday with confidence restored and no doubt Andy McEntee the manager will be reminding them that they should have won in Ballybofey on the last occasion they played there.

Donegal should win and I expect them to do so. But nothing short of the performances we produced against Cavan and Tyrone in Ulster will do.

The one thing we have to be careful not to do is take the foot off the pedal in the second half like we did against Tyrone and Cavan.

Donegal to win.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack