National Football League Division One Preview – Donegal vs Tyrone (7pm Ballybofey)

The numbers game is the central talking point in Tralee but there are some impressive runs at stake here on Saturday evening.  But league final places will occupy the Donegal and Tyrone footballers.

Donegal are 16 games unbeaten in Ballybofey but Tyrone haven’t suffered defeat in 13 league matches.  And both teams held Dublin! It was Ballybofey in 2015 when Donegal were victorious by 1-13 to 0-6 that Mickey Harte’s team last lost in spring but the Red Hands did prevail in the 2016 Ulster Final.

Tyrone sit on top of Division One with seven points and Donegal are just two behind in third.  A win for the visitors will make them favourites for the final but The Tir Conaill men will have serious ambitions should they take the spoils.

It’s a year of change for Rory Gallagher’s team but after a bad start against Kerry, they picked up wins over Roscommon and Cavan.  Mark Anthony McGinley is solid between the sticks; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee and Frank McGlynn anchor the defence; Ciaran Thompson, Ryan McHugh and Michael Murphy are the main attackers.

Tyrone’s only loss in 2016 was their one-point All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Mayo.  They’ve only scored one goal in their last six competitive ties (from defender Aidan McCrory) but the deployment of Sean Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly to attack could change that.

Niall Morgan in goal; Cathal McCarron, Tiernan McCann, McCrory and Rory Brennan are key defenders; with Colm and Sean Cavanagh, Padraig McNulty, Kieran McGeary, Peter Harte, Darren McCurry and Donnelly crucial up front.

Donegal are 13/10, Tyrone 4/5 and the draw 7/1.  The latter kept all runs intact against Dublin but Tyrone look slightly ahead at present.

Verdict: Tyrone


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