LETTERKENNY Gaels manager Sean McBrearty says his side are ‘chomping at the bit’ as quarter-finals weekend rolls around.
Gaels defeated Naomh Padraig, Muff in their championship opener and then drew with Moville last week to ensure that they topped their group.
They have been paired with Carndonagh in Saturday’s last eight meeting, and will go into the game as clear favourites.
The Letterkenny men are Division 4 league champions, and McBrearty is pleased with how they have been playing.
“Things are not too bad for us. At this time of the year with the students away it can be hard to get a collective training session.
“But I know for a fact that the boys who are away are having trials for Freshers teams and Sigerson teams so they are probably working even harder than we are at home.
“We do have a couple of injury concerns. Liam Doherty hurt his shoulder last week and it’s unlikely that he will feature.
“Mark Hunter has been out for the last month or so and I think this one will come too soon for him, but other than that we should be ok.
“This year we are in a good position regarding our squad. Our three subs that came on last week all contributed well.
“So I have around 22 or 23 players that are chomping at the bit, and will be disappointed if they are not starting.”
Letterkenny Gaels have already beaten Carndonagh twice this year, and while it would be a huge upset if they were defeated, McBrearty must warn his side against complacency.
“I haven’t seen them apart from the two games we played against them in the league.
“I think we can all appreciate that Conor O’Donnell is going to be a huge loss to them as he is a brilliant young player.
“We played them down there at the start of the season and it took a Ciaran Cannon goal in injury-time for us to win.
“We then played them at home and it was the week after Conor got injured and their heads were down and we won handy enough.
“I know they beat Lifford by six points, but the fact that they lost to Na Rossa doesn’t auger that well for them to be honest.
“It is what it is and we have to make sure we keep our feet on the ground and get the win that we need.”
Carn lost two games in the group to Buncrana and Na Rossa, but a win over Naomh Padraig, Lifford was enough to send them through to the last eight.
Cruciate victim Conor O’Donnell is a huge loss to them, while former Donegal underage stars Anthony ‘Bushman’ Doherty and Danny Monagle are also out long term.
They were also dealt a fresh blow last week when the influential Darragh Brown picked up an injury that will keep him out this week.
It’s a tall ask for Carn, and their manager Paddy McLaughlin says the early throw-in time on Saturday makes it even more challenging.
“We’re out in Burt on Saturday lunchtime and I think it’s a ridiculous time to be honest.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it was Sunday lunchtime, but we have boys working on Saturday.
“You’re talking about five of our best players in Ryan Kelly, James Monagle, Richie Cunningham, Nathan Mullarkey, and Donal Doherty.
“They would have been fine if the match was on Saturday evening, but they are all working during the day.
“The County Board are looking to get everything cleared up before the two senior quarter-finals but it doesn’t seem to matter who they steam roll in the process.
“Listen I’m a blunt realist, and with the way Gaels are going, it could be a cricket score unless we get a couple of these men back.”