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Anticipation building ahead of crunch Super 8s match

Michael Murphy of Donegal in action against Pádraig Hampsey of Tyrone during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 5 match between Tyrone and Donegal at Healy Park in Omagh, Co Tyrone.. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

THE anticipation is building ahead of Sunday’s crunch Super 8s decider between Donegal and Tyrone in MacCumhaill Park.

The game is a sell-out, and just under 16,000 people will make their way through the turnstiles to watch the drama unfold at 3.30pm.

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With the game so close to home, there is no need for an overnight stay, and the Donegal players will sleep in their own beds on Saturday night, before meeting up three hours before the match on Sunday.

Donegal manager Declan Bonner has been happy with the build-up to the big match, and he is hoping to lead his county to the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time in four years.

“Our preparations have gone really, really well over the last two weeks.

“We’re probably going to need our best performance of the year. The game will go on for 75 – 76 minutes, and we’re going to have to be really at it for most of that time.

“If you switch off against quality teams you’ll get punished, and we are well aware of that.

“But the lads are all focussed and they know what’s in front of them.

“If we win, we are through to the All-Ireland semi-final the following week, and that is a huge prize.

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“There might not be any silverware handed out on Sunday, but it is a massive match for us.”

Donegal have a great record in MacCumhaill Park, and haven’t been beaten there in their last 21 league or championship encounters.

It’s certainly a bonus to have such a pivotal game on home territory, but Bonner says they don’t see it as a huge advantage.

“Not really. We don’t talk about it, we know it’s a game in Ballybofey. The only thing we’re trying to do is get that level of performance, that game-plan right and improve in certain aspects of it.

“If we can get that, we’re in with a decent chance.”

The talented Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher is set to miss the match after injuring his elbow against Roscommon two weeks ago.

Ronan McNamee and Richie Donnelly are both doubts for Tyrone, but Lee Brennan – who excelled during the league – is available for selection for the Hands.

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