DONEGAL manager Declan Bonner insists his team’s full focus is on their opening Super 8s match with Meath this Sunday in MacCumhaill Park at 2pm.
Bonner says the team are determined to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals, but to do that, they are going to have to finish in the top two of a challenging group which also includes big-hitters in Kerry and Mayo.
There are three big championship tussles on the horizon, but Bonner says Donegal are only focused on one at present.
Meath are first up after they defeated Clare in the qualifiers, and the Donegal manager was impressed with their showing in that outing.
He isn’t taking the Royals for granted, and knows that they must start the Super 8s with a victory if they are to be in with a chance of advancing to the last four.
“Our target is to get through to the semi-finals. We couldn’t manage that last year, and we know how difficult it is going to be to get there this year.
“It’s a very tough group, and you have three very talented teams in it.
“But we won’t be looking past Sunday’s game. That’s the only one that matters at the moment.
“Meath have recovered well from their Leinster Final defeat, and they got the better of Clare in a high-scoring and enjoyable match last Sunday.
“We played them twice this year and there has been nothing between the sides. I think there was just two points in it both times.”
Meath caused Donegal plenty of problems when the sides clashed back in the league.
In the Division 2 League Final, Bonner’s side really struggled to contain Meath’s Mickey Newman, who was excellent at full-forward.
Newman injured himself last week against Clare, but Bonner expects him to feature in Ballybofey and he is not the only man that will need watching.
“There’s plenty of players in the Meath team that will cause problems and Mickey Newman is one of them.
“They have a lot of pace in their team with Cillian O’Sullivan and (James) Conlon, and you have attacking half-backs with (Donal) Keogan and (Padraic) Harnan and these boys.
“Meath traditionally down through the years have been a hard, tough championship side, and I’d expect them to come to MacCumhaill Park all guns blazing.
“They have definitely made a lot of progress under Andy McEntee. They have won promotion, and this is a Division 1 encounter.”
Donegal went into the Super 8s last year without the influential Patrick McBrearty, but the injury outlook is much more positive this season.
Eoin McHugh missed the Ulster Final against Cavan with a knock that he picked up the week before the match, but the Kilcar man should be back in the mix this week.
Bonner said: “We have no injuries. Eoin McHugh is back training, and he should be good to go this weekend.