BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL’S final National League game of 2013 – which sees the visit of Dublin to the county – is set to be staged in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny.
O’Donnell Park has been recommended by the Donegal Co Board for the game, with Croke Park expected to rubber stamp the proposal, which sees each of Donegal’s three county grounds handed one game each in the League.
The game against the Dubs could prove an attractive game as it is the final match of the Division 1 series on Sunday April 7th.
While the Dubs supporters are traditionally poor travellers, the visit of the ‘Jacks’ would be a big coup for Letterkenny, especially if the game has significance.
Barring qualification for the play-off phase of the League, it will be Donegal’s final competitive game before the Championship opener with Tyrone – and also sees Donegal clash with another of the country’s big guns.
Now under the management of Jim Gavin, the 2011 All-Ireland winners and their vast array of talent could see O’Donnell Park top the attendance charts for Donegal again.
At full capacity, the Sallaghagraine venue can hold around 7,500 spectators, with 2,500 of those catered for in the all-seater stand.
O’Donnell Park has hosted a National League game every years since it was put back on the roster for the visit of the the All-Ireland champions Kerry in 2007. A limited amount of 6,000 tickets were on sale that day as St Eunan’s forward Brendan Devenney inspired Donegal to a win on his home patch.
Including that game, O’Donnell Park has boasted the highest gate receipts for a National League game in each of the last five campaigns.
Donegal have also played Derry, Mayo, Armagh and Laois in O’Donnell Park in recent seasons with the Dubs clash now expected to be rubber-stampted by the GAA hierarchy.
Donegal’s first home game against Down is expected to be brought forward a day. Originally pencilled in for Sunday February 10th, a request from Down to play the game on the Saturday night has been agreed by Donegal and the game will now take place under the lights of MacCumhaill Park.
On Sunday March 10th, Donegal will take on Kerry in Fr Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.
A week later, Donegal take on Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn, while Donegal have tabled a request for the game to throw-in at the earlier time of 5pm, something that has been accepted to accomodate travelling supporters who wish to make their way home after the game.
The final, confirmed set of fixtures will be confirmed in the coming weeks by the GAA.