Donegal need Kerry and Kerry need Donegal says Kerry journalist Michael Clifford

Tom Comack sought the views of a Kerry journalist domiciled in Donegal for the inside line on Sunday's crunch Super 8s tie between Donegal and Kerry

Donegal need Kerry and Kerry need Donegal says Kerry journalist Michael Clifford

Declan Bonner and his opposite number Kerry manager Peter Keane may not agree, but there are those that feel Kerry are just the challenge Donegal require and Donegal is just the challenge Kerry need right now.

The argument comes after the two counties recorded big wins over Meath and Mayo respectively last weekend in the first round of games in the Super 8s and that after their clear runs in their respective provincial campaigns they are untested.

The general feeling is that both have reached the stage where they need to find out if they are genuine challengers to Dublin’s drive for five bid.

Donegal had nine points to spare in their clash with Meath in Ballybofey in their Super 8 opener and six, four and five point wins respectively over Fermanagh, Tyrone and Cavan in Ulster.

Kerry, who played only their third championship game on Sunday (two less than Donegal), had a ten point winning margin over injury hit Mayo. Kerry beat Clare by six points and Cork, by three in Munster.

One man that feels there is merit in the theory of Donegal and Kerry needing a test is Kerry man and Daily Mail GAA journalist Michael Clifford, who is lives in Donegal. Michael is from Ballymacelligot but is living in Clar, outside Donegal town.

“The reality is Donegal and Kerry are untested so far in the championship and the championship has got to the stage where they need a right good challenge to find out where they are at,” said Michael.

“I was in Ballybofey on Sunday for the Donegal, Meath game which was Donegal’s toughest test so far. Meath came from five down early in the second half to take the lead with about 15 minutes left in the game before Donegal went up a gear again and pulled away to win comfortably.

“I thought Donegal were sluggish and flat and not as sharp as they had been in their other three games. But I would put that down to the three week break since the Ulster final and there was still a bit of the hype l hanging around from the Ulster championship.

“But even at that I still never thought it was a game they were going to lose even when Meath took the lead.

“In fact I thought Donegal were very Dublinisque on Sunday. Oisin Gallen and Eoin McHugh came on and made a huge impact and Donegal’s other top men Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh, Patrick McBrearty and Shaun Patton stood up and Donegal just pulled away again.

“Michael Murphy is playing the football of his life. He is injury free and is a different shape and is as fit as ever as I have seen him.

“Ryan McHugh is back playing well again and is a quality player. He is what I call a heads up player. I remember chatting to him on the All-Star tour last winter. He was taking a break at the time due to a concussion issue and he was unsure of his future and was wondering if he was going to have to change his game.

“But I don’t see any change to his game, he is still is back playing his old game and playing as well as ever.”

Patrick McBrearty, goalkeeper Shaun Patton and Ciaran Thompson and Jamie Brennan are the others singled out by Michael Clifford.

“McBrearty is coming back into his own and kicked a goal and six points against Meath which is a good return. Donegal are lucky they have a number of forwards that can take a score such as Jamie Brennan and Ciaran Thompson, who can score from long range.

“Shaun Patton is one of the leading keepers in the game and is right up alongside Stephen Cluxton and Niall Morgan and he is a very central player for Donegal.

“There is a lot of chat about his kickouts which are top class but as we saw last Sunday he is one of the best in the business under a high ball. He caught a couple against Meath in the second half that were outstanding.”

Kerry put in their best performance in last Sunday’s ten point win over Mayo in Killarney with Paul Geaney, Sean O’Shea and David Clifford the standout men in the Kerry attack. David Moran also turned in a big performance in midfield.

“Kerry needed that performance and they got it. But you have to question how good were Mayo. They have been badly hit by injuries.

“They were without their first choice midfield pairing of Matthew Ruane and Seamus O’Shea and Aidan O’ Shea was playing in the middle of the field and he looked like he was carrying an injury.

“Patrick Durcan was missing from the half-back line and Lee Keegan couldn’t be a 100%. They are all big players for Mayo so that does cast a doubt over how good the Kerry performance really was and that is why they need the Donegal challenge.

“The big conversation in Kerry all year has been around the full-back line and midfield was seen as a huge problem. The reality is those questions weren’t answered against a weakened Mayo. And an inform Patrick McBrearty, Jamie Brennan will ask more questions of the full-back line than Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran and Hugh McFadden and Jason McGee will provide stronger opponents for David Moran in the middle of the park.

“That is why Kerry need the Donegal challenge,” says Clifford.