The Donegal League side pictured before their game against Cavan/Monaghan.
It's a meeting of last year’s beaten semi-finalists when the Inishowen and Donegal League sides lock horns in the Oscar Traynor Cup at Maginn Park in Buncrana on Saturday night.
It’s the second round of fixtures in Group D with Inishowen winning away to Sligo/Leitrim in their opening game while Donegal lost at home to Cavan/Monaghan.
Those results mean that Donegal simply can’t afford to lose this weekend. Even a draw might not be good enough for them to qualify from the group.
Their hopes of putting one over their near neighbours haven’t been helped by the departure from the squad of three key players. The Milford United duo of Gary Merritt and Kyle Black both featured in the opening game with Black coming off the bench to score. However, they have since withdrawn from the panel, as has Raymond Foy of Castlefinn Celtic.
Pajo Rafferty of Drumoghill FC has since been drafted into the squad and having impressed in recent friendlies against Letterkenny IT and Maiden City, the striker could well feature from the start on Saturday.
Benny Bonner will also miss this weekend because of injury so Patrick Cannon of Glenea United has come in as cover.
Donegal League assistant manager, Peter Doherty, admits the absence of so many good players is far from ideal preparation for what’s a crucial game.
“These are the things you have to deal with when you’re working with a squad of players,” he said.
“We were very disappointed that players decided to step away from the squad, but you just get on with it. Pajo Rafferty came in and has been going very well in training and in the friendly games. He’s a quality player.”
Doherty knows that his team are going to be up against it this weekend.
“Inishowen have been the benchmark at this level for some time,” he said.
“They’re more or less working off the same panel again this year. But games between us have been tight. They’ve beaten us twice this past two years, but on each occasion, they got the winning goal in the last minute.
“We know we probably need to win. After losing the last day, we can’t afford to lose again or we’re out, it’s as simple as that.
“We didn’t play well against Cavan/Monaghan in the first half. We were 2-0 down at half-time and got a goal back early in the second half. To be honest though, we could have been four down at the break.
“But since then, we’ve been training hard and the moral in the camp is very good. We drew with Maiden City 4-4 in a friendly and we played Letterkenny IT as well and beat them 5-4. We’ve had no bother scoring goals, the problem seems to be keeping them out.”
Donegal’s last match in the group is away to Sligo/Leitrim.
Saturday's game kicks off at 6.30pm.
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