WITH DONEGAL safely tucked into the county’s 17th Ulster final, following Saturday’s semi-final win over Tyrone, the senior management is set to make a request to the Donegal Competitions Controls Committee (CCC) to defer this weekend’s planned action in the first round of the club championships.
Donegal teed up a July 22nd meeting with Down thanks to a gripping 0-12 to 0-10 win over Tyrone in Clones and the management is now keen for players to avoid the high-octane intensity of club championship battle.
Full-back Neil McGee had to be withdrawn after just three minutes on Saturday evening, while Paddy McGrath and team captain Michael Murphy were also said to have felt the effects of tight hamstrings in the warm-up.
The Donegal county committee meets for its monthly sitting tonight in Ballybofey and Donegal manager Jim McGuinness is due to address the meeting.
It is expected that a request will be lodged with the CCC pleading for the deferral of the games. Eight games are down for decision in the senior championship: the Saturday games St Eunan’s v Kilcar, St Michael’s v MacCumhaills, Dungloe v Cloughaneely and Naomh Conaill v St Naul’s; with Sunday seeing Bundoran v Glenfin, Gaoth Dobhair v Glenswilly, Fanad Gaels v Killybegs and Four Masters v Ardara.
Donegal’s place in a second successive Ulster decider was sealed thanks to a stunning late save from ‘keeper Paul Durcan to deny Martin Penrose an equalising goal.
Donegal trailed by a point at half-time, but hit five in a row and kept Tyrone scoreless for over half-an-hour in the second-half to take command.
“We had to play with more width and more depth. We had to keep prodding and looking for openings,” said a pleased Jim McGuinness.
“We had to ask questions and try to switch the play, to open them and turn them as much as possible. The more the game went on, we were able to open it up more and that was encouraging.
“We’re developing. There were two goals in it last year, but we only kicked six points.
“That was serious stuff for long periods and it wasn’t easy getting through or penetrating. Tactically it was a tough battle too. They have come through it and kicked 12 points. It is very encouraging.”
Donegal are raging favourites already for their final joust with James McCartan’s Down. Colm McFadden was sent off late in the day on Saturday, but as it was for two bookings he will be available for the final.
McGuinness said: “The key thing for us now is to take this, bring it
into training for the next three weeks and hopefully prepare on the training field to take on Down.
“If we can execute a game plan for Down, we’ll be very happy. That doesn’t guarantee that we’ll win, but it guarantees us that we’ll be competitive.”
Donegal has never won the Ulster championship back-to-back and they are appearing in back-to-back finals for the first time since 1993.
Donegal are also aiming to become the first time to win two in a row back-to-back.
They knock at history’s door.
Their manager said: “I made my intentions very clear from day one in that the Ulster Championship was always something that I had great belief in. These players are the same. We respect the Ulster Championship so much. It is the only show in town when you’re in it.
“The bottom line now is that we’re in the final and the players have the best three weeks of their lives in training now. It’s a big opportunity for them now.”