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Ulster SFC quarter-final – Donegal v Derry- Ballybofey – 4pm – RTE/BBC NI
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Donegal will host Derry at Ballybofey in Donegal this coming Sunday at 4.00 pm in the Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final.
In their last outing, Donegal came out victors against Down in the Premiliary Round of the Ulster championship. Winning by 2-25 to 1-12 in a 16-point winning margin.
Derry has been a surprise package this season, topping their group in Division 3, winning all three of their games before defeating Limerick and Offaly in the semi’s and final.
Unlike their opponents, Donegal’s league campaign was a mixed bag.
More often than not, league form is not often looked at deeply for the latter stages of the championship. But Donegal’s league form was uninspiring.
Drawing to Monaghan and Armagh, beating a struggling and bland Tyrone, before losing to the Dubs in the semi-finals.
On paper, Donegal has the superior team, with Michael Murphy still the main figure in a very youthful side that employs a more attacking threat than the 2012 All-Ireland winners.
Paddy McBrearty and Ryan McHugh have laid down their claim in the starting fifteen since their debuts.
McBrearty is Donegal’s main threat, with a strong showing against Down, scoring 1-4 from play and 1-6 in total.
Ryan McHugh has stood up this year, bringing pace and variety, often dropping deep from half-forward to start attacks.
Michael Murphy is still their best player and with a hamstring injury sustained in the league recurring against Down, forcing him off after 20 minutes, it is a race against time for how fit he will be.
Derry have been lethal in attack during the league campaign. Spearheaded by star full-forward Shane McGuigan all throughout their run in getting promoted.
Rory Gallagher will hope he can produce at a higher level in the coming weeks.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Both managers are acutely aware of their team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Donegal has numerous attack outputs, while defensively they can be got at, as shown by the Down game.
While Derry’s defensive unit has been outstanding throughout their league campaign, only conceding 53 points and a respectful three goals. While going forward, they have to rely on McGuigan more often than not.
Against Down, Donegal was lacklustre at the back, the full-back line was often penetrated and was bombarded with the long ball throughout the 70 minutes and should have conceded at least five goals. It was Down’s poor finishing and clinical nature that let them down.
If any elite team were to go up against Donegal, they would eventually be carved open.
Rory Gallagher would hope the likes of Patrick Kearney and Niall Loughlin will contribute more so the burden won’t have to fall to Shane McGuigan.
If Derry can add more of a threat to Donegal’s shaky back-line, they will be dangerous.
Overall, Derry’s squad cannot compete with Donegal’s, Declan Bonner’s side has a strong core to their team.
Pace on either flank of their forward line and if Michael Murphy is fit and ready to go, Derry will falter.
If Donegal were to be considered challengers for the All-Ireland, they need to put in a performance on Sunday.
Prediction: Donegal by 3 points
Predicted Teams – Subject to Change
- Shaun Patton
- Brendan McCole
- Neil McGee
- Stephen McMenamin
- Ryan McHugh
- Odhran McFadden Ferry
- Eoghan Ban Gallagher
- Hugh McFadden
- Caolan McGonigle
- Ciaran Thompson
- Niall O’Donnell
- Michael Langan
- Patrick Brearty
- Michael Murphy
- Peader Mogan
- Odhran Lynch
- Conor McCluskey
- Christopher McKaigue
- Padraig McGrogan
- Padraig Cassidy
- Gareth McKinless
- Conor Doherty
- Conor Glass
- Emmett Bradley
- Ethan Doherty
- Niall Loughlin
- Ciaran McFaul
- Benny Heron
- Shane McGuigan
- Oisin McWilliams