WE are down to the last eight here in Donegal with the so-called big four all still standing.
Championship has been in full swing here over the last number of weeks with games coming thick and fast and as a player that’s exactly what you want. All the hard training has been done it’s just a case of playing and recovering now week-byweek as we reach the business end of things.
At the start of the championship I laid out the favorites for this year’s championship ranked one to four and it’s pretty much as I predicted heading into the home straight.
Kilcar are everyone’s out and out favorites having easily overcome all their opponents in the group stages. Glenties did likewise and are safely through to the knockout stages. At the start of the championship I had St Eunan’s at number three and ourselves at number four but having slowly found our rhythm over the last few weeks we have probably just edged ahead of them at this stage.
If you speak to anyone here in Donegal, they will tell you that the quarter-finals are a foregone conclusion and they are already talking about the mouth-watering clashes that could happen in the semi-finals.
Anyone that has been around the game for as long as I have will tell you that this is never the case. I fully expect one upset at the weekend and our sole job is to make sure that it doesn’t involve Gaoth Dobhair.
Kilcar play local rivals and an upand-coming Killybegs team and although Killybegs are never easy beaten in the championship, you would expect Kilcar to have too much for them especially how they are playing at the minute.
The loss of Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher will be felt at the weekend and it will be extremely difficult for the Killybegs lads to get a result here. Having said that, championship is championship and it’s all to play for on the day.
The other game on Saturday sees St Eunan’s play Milford and again the bookmakers will tell you that Eunan’s are raging hot favorites but this young Milford side have no fear and will fancy their chances of causing an upset.
St Eunan’s will be without the suspended Rory Kavanagh and the injured Rory Carr so the task will be a little harder than first expected.
Last year’s finalists Glenties clash with last year’s Intermediate champions Glenfin in the early game on Sunday. Glenfin have shown promise this season with a few young players coming to the fore but it will be a tough ask against a well-drilled Glenties team.
We will have to wait until Sunday evening to get our quarter-final underway when we face off against Bundoran.
We faced each other last year with both teams opting for a shoot-out but I expect things to be a little different this time around. Bundoran have some very dangerous forwards so our defense will have a torrid time of it.
We have slowly grown into the championship and having played poorly in the first two games, we opened the legs a bit last weekend.
For all teams it was all about getting out of the group and into the quarters, now that we are here it’s time now to start producing your best as there are no second chances from here on in.
From this point it’s all about who can get their timing right and also get the rub of the green with injuries, etc. A suspension or an injury or two could derail your whole season so it’s important to have a strong panel to be able to absorb these setbacks.
Like I said, I expect at least one upset at the weekend and our focus for the next few days will be to do everything in our power to ensure that it’s not us!
All over Ulster, club championships are cranking up and I think it’s a special, special time of year.
The county scene is great and all that but there is something extra special about club championships.
In every county you have upsets, controversy and drama and that is what it’s all about. Big teams will be caught by teams that no one have a chance to and this is something we just don’t get with county football.
We now have more TV coverage from both RTE and TG4 so we now get a chance to see some of those clashes live which is great. RTE are to show the two quarter-finals that are on Saturday here in Donegal, which is just excellent. I’m sure Gaels all over Ireland will be tuning in.