After being roundly criticised for their performance against Antrim in the opening championship game, Donegal will be hoping to silence the doubters with a convincing win over Cavan in Saturday’s Ulster quarter-final.
Jim McGuinness’ side’s performance in a drab 1-10 0-07 win over Antrim in the opening game brought the manager’s negative tactics into question, though it was the county’s first championship win in four years McGuinness has promised “a different style and a completely different game plan” going into Sunday’s match.
With the criticism in mind and a clash with Tyrone at stake Donegal will point to recent offensive performances over Derry, Antrim and Meath as evidence that they are a side capable of attacking strength and their Division 1 credentials should shine through.
McGuinness said that Antrim’s “ultra-defensive tactics” necessitated his side’s cautious approach but recognised that Cavan will provide a different test preferring a more balanced approach and with manager Val Andrew fielding eight debutantes they will be somewhat of an unknown quantity.
Cavan’s first outing in this year’s championship will be a fresh side in both defense and attack with five new players in the back line and an all new attack of Gearóid McKiernan, Fergal Flanagan and Niall McDermott announced.
Despite their mid-table finish in Division 3 Cavan will require Donegal’s own young side to have their wits about them, the introduction of the U21s All-Ireland finalists in the tail end of the campaign showed a much more impressive Cavan side.
David Gibney in particular is rated as one of the best young midfielders in the country and with home advantage The Breffni Men will be sure to make it a close contest.
Donegal will welcome back full-forward Michael Murphy from injury and the influential attacker will have an important role in upsetting the inexperienced Cavan defence.
Rory Kavanagh has been given the all clear for Sunday’s encounter but doubts remain over Frank McGlynn and Neill
Cavan: J Reilly; J McEnroe, P Carroll, D O’Dowd; N Murray, J McCutcheon, D Reilly, R Cullivan, D Givney, G McKiernan, M Lyng, F Flanagan, N McDermott, E Keating, S Johnston.
Donegal: P Durcan; K Lacey, N McGee, P McGrath; K Cassidy, A Thompson, M Boyle; R Kavanagh, K Rafferty; M McElhinney, M Hegarty, R Bradley; M McHugh, M Murphy, C McFadden.