All to play for on Sunday

Tom Comack, Diarmaid Doherty and Peter Campbell preview the Michael Murphy Sports Donegal Senior Championship

All to play for on Sunday

Group A

Bundoran v Glenswilly

Gaelic Park, Bundoran - 2pm

Bundoran and Glenswilly got their championship ambitions back on track last weekend with second round wins over Ardara and Dungloe respectively.

Bundoran had suffered a heavy defeat away to Dungloe and Glenswilly lost by two in Ardara, in their first round games. This is, like so many of the weekend games, a winner takes all tie, with the winner emerging from the group and clinching a place in the quarter-final. The loser could find themselves locked in a relegation battle.

Bundoran impressed in the second half last Saturday evening against Ardara. They have been strengthened this season by the return of Mikey McEniff and David Studdart.

And with the Brennans, Paul and Jamie Brennan, James Keaney, Ciaran McCaughey, Tommy Hourihane, Niall Dunne and Shane McGowan playing well, they are a formidable outfit.

Neil Gallagher had his first outing of the season last weekend and his presence greatly influenced their three point win over Dungloe.

Gary McFadden was in good scoring form for Glenswilly, against Dungloe and Kealan Kelly had a good hour in midfield.

Michael Murphy did not play last weekend due to ankle injury and is extremely doubtful for the trip to Bundoran. They will be without Keelan McFadden, who was red carded last week.

Verdict: Bundoran

Dungloe - Ardara

Rosses Park, Dungloe - 2 pm

Dungloe defeated Ardara, three times last season, twice in the league and once in the championship.

The sides have met twice this season so far in the league. Dungloe won the away meeting in Pearse Park, while the second leg in Rosses Park, which was a pretty feisty contest, ended in a draw.

Ardara will take heart from that last league meeting.

However, they will be without county ace Paddy McGrath, who limped out of last Saturday evening’s game in Bundoran, with a hamstring injury.

Tony Boyle, the Dungloe manager, is also sweating this week on the availability of midfielder Noel McBride.

McBride missed last Sunday’s clash with Glenswilly with a hamstring strain.

Dungloe are also expected to be without goalkeeper Danny Rodgers, away on holidays.

On the good news front Martin Redmond returned for his first game since the Ardara league game, in Glenswilly, when introduced off the bench on the stroke of half-time.

The Dungloe team that started last Sunday was made up of three sets of brothers Barry, Mark and Darren Curran; Luke and Adam Neely and Conor and Ryan Greene.

And the introduction of former All-Star Adrian Sweeney to join his brother Raymond brought the number of brothers to four.

Verdict: Dungloe

Group B

Killybegs v Kilcar

Eamon Byrne Memorial Park, Fintra - 2pm

Time was and not all that terribly long ago Fintra and Towney would be filled to overflowing any time Killybegs and Kilcar locked horns in the championship.

Back then, the late 1980s early ‘90s, they were the two top teams in the county and not far off being the best in the province.

Killybegs won the last of their six championships in 1996 and Kilcar have to go back even further to three years earlier to 1993, for the last of their six titles.

Of the two, Kilcar seem to be best positioned to end their long barren harvest. They drew their first round tie with St Eunan’s. And last Sunday, the side managed by Martin McHugh and laden with current county men Ryan, Mark and Eoin McHugh and Patrick and Stephen McBrearty, laid down a serious marker against St Michael’s. Kilcar defeated St Michael’s by 14 points in Towney.

Local rivalry and bragging rights will see Killybegs well pumped up for this one. But the Hugh McFadden and Eoin ‘Ban’ Gallagher powered Killybegs did little to suggest in their 2-14 to 1-6 defeat by St Eunan’s, that they are a match for Kilcar.

Verdict: Kilcar

St Michael’s v St Eunan’s

The Bridge, Dunfanaghy - 2 pm

By Sunday evening one of these two big guns will be folding their 2016 championship tents.

Of the two, St Eunan’s are in the best position. A draw will do the men from O’Donnell Park, while it is plain and simple for St Michael’s, they need to win.

Form in the league ahead of last weekend would have suggested that St Michael’s would enter this weekend’s encounter favourites.

But results in round two has altered that thinking.

St Eunan’s have Rory Kavanagh rotating between full-forward and midfield and veteran John Haran - who continues to defy Father Time - chopping and changing with Kavanagh. They had Paddy McGowan and Conor Gibbons in good scoring form up front as they chalked up an 11 point victory over Killybegs in Fintra, 2-14 to 1-6.

In contrast St Michael’s simply never got out of the blocks against Kilcar, in Towney, and suffered a 14 points hammering, 2-15 to 0-7.

The margin of the defeat rather than the defeat itself was the main talking point afterwards.

A lot of soul searching will be done at the Bridge this week, and it remains to be seen if Christy Toye, Martin McElhinney, Colm McFadden and company can recover from last Sunday’s defeat.

Verdict: St Eunan’s

Group C

MacCumhaill’s v Naomh Muire

MacCumhaill Park - 2 p.m.

The big game in Group C will take place in MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey where the home club entertain Naomh Muire. After defeating Glenfin in the local derby last weekend, MacCumhaill’s have qualification for the quarter-finals in their own hands. Nothing less than a win will do. I’m sure Damien Devenney wouldn’t mind if he a first half performance like last Saturday and a three goal blast. He will have Steven O’Reilly back after suspension, which will also be a boost.

Eamonn O’Boyle and Naomh Muire might rue not winning at home to Malin last weekend. Another draw will be enough for them to get through, but that may be a tall order. On the balance of things, it would appear that MacCumhaill’s are slightly stronger to get the win. Naomh Muire know that they cannot rely on Malin stumbling at home, so defeat will leave them out of the hunt. But then they have already gone to Glenfin and won there so they will feel they can repeat the dose further up the Finn River.

Verdict: MacCumhaill’s

Malin v Glenfin

Connolly Park, Malin - 2 p.m.

This is a dead rubber for Glenfin as they have lost their first two games against Naomh Muire and MacCumhaill’s, but for Malin it is a great opportunity to reach the last eight and another big day out. The Inishowen side may not be going as well this year as in former years, but they could ruffle the feathers of a heavyweight. They will be odds on to get through as presently they sit joint top of the table with Naomh Muire on three points. Indeed, it will not be a surprise if they are winners of the group come Sunday evening, which would match them with a runner-up in the quarter-final draw.

Glenfin will travel without county star, Frank McGlynn, who was shown red last weekend, and morale will be low. But they have fought proudly to stay in the senior ranks for a number of years. Finishing with no wins will mean a relegation battle and that’s the prize on offer for them for a win.

But the momentum is with Donegal’s most northerly clubs and it’s hard to see anything but a home win on Sunday.

Verdict: Malin

Group D

Naomh Conaill v Gaoth Dobhair

Davy Brennan Memorial Park - Sunday, 2pm

One of the big stories from last weekend was Gaoth Dobhair’s defeat at the Burn Road to Termon - a result which has thrown this group wide open.

It means Conal Sheridan’s Gaoth Dobhair will go to Glenties on Sunday needing nothing less than a victory - and even that might not be good enough to qualify for the last eight.

It could have been all so different for Gaoth Dobhair had they got the win that was expected of them in Termon. But without the absent Eamon McGee, they failed to follow up on their opening day win at home to Four Masters and are now facing the very real prospect of missing out on the quarter-finals - something that is becoming a worrying trend for the club.

They have plenty of strength and experience in their set-up, but Naomh Conaill are going very well at present and won’t be easing back, even if they are all but assured of qualification.

After a very close first half against Four Masters on Sunday, their class told after half time and they hit five goals in a convincing victory.

It’s hard to see them slipping up at home in their final game - even though Gaoth Dobhair have so much to play for.

Verdict - Naomh Conaill.

Termon v Four Masters

Burn Road - Sunday, 2pm

You’ve got to hand it to Termon. They’ve built up a reputation for delivering championship surprises in recent seasons, and they were at it again on Saturday evening against a shell-shocked Gaoth Dobhair.

Nobody can ever question the hunger and desire that’s in Francie Friel’s squad. But there’s talent there too. Goalkeeper Michael Boyle had a fine game at the weekend, as did the likes of Paddy and Dara McDaid, the experienced Johnny McCafferty and county minor, Enda McCormick.

But Friel will know he’ll need another big showing from his players this weekend. Four Masters may have lost both games in the group, but for periods in both matches, they showed their worth. On paper, Four Masters probably have the more experienced squad, and mathematically, they could still qualify from this group. For that to happen, Four Masters would need to win well against Termon and hope that Naomh Conaill beat Gaoth Dobhair by a big margin. That would leave Termon, Four Masters and Gaoth Dobhair all on two points, meaning qualification would come down to scoring averages.

A win is not beyond Four Masters, but Termon would be very disappointed if they don’t qualify now.

Verdict - Termon

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