Donegal U-20s are back on the road on Sunday afternoon when they face Roscommon in the Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon in the Philly McGuinness U-20 Cup.
The game is the curtain raiser to the Connacht Senior Championship quarter-final meeting of Roscommon and Leitrim. It is a second round tie for Donegal who lost away to Mayo in Ballina on Monday.
“It is a matter of getting back out on the field and correcting things that let us down on Monday against Mayo,” said the Donegal boss Gary McDaid, who is in his second season as Donegal U-20 manager.
“We had a very good first half against Mayo, in what turned out to be a game of two halves. We were the dominant team in the first half and Mayo were certainly the dominant team in the second half.
“I thought our game management in the first half was excellent from such a young group of players who were able to control the game and to react to different things that Mayo did and at half-time we were up by two points, 1-7 to 1-5.
“We were very happy at half-time at where we were at and then we had an early onslaught from Mayo at the start of the second half and they hit 2-1 in the first couple of minutes which gave us a huge task to comeback.
“But the boys stuck unbelievably well at the task even though we lost a couple of men and went down to 13 in the second half they showed huge fight and huge desire right to the end and we actually outscored Mayo in the final quarter.”
Donegal had a number of injuries ahead of Monday’s opening game with Brian Diver, recovering from cruciate surgery, Michael McGroary, hamstring, Aaron Gilhooley, concussion and Oisin Gallen, shoulder injury. They also started without Ronan Docherty.
All of those are still out this week and Gary McDaid is planning this week now without Conor O’Donnell, following Monday’s straight red card.
“Yeah, Conor is going to miss the game. He will serve a one match ban and the situation regarding the rest of the lads on the injured list, it is going to be another couple of weeks before Brian Diver, Michael McGroary and Aaron Gillhooley are going to be back.
“Regarding Oisin Gallen, he injured his shoulder in a club game the weekend before last and and he is seeing a specialist in Dublin this week and we will have to await the outcome about that before we know the situation regarding Oisin. But as of now his health and wellbeing are the most important thing.”
Roscommon will be backboned by their 2017 U-17 team that won Connacht and went all the way to the All-Ireland final before losing to Tyrone.
They also have the survivors from last year’s U-20 team that gave Mayo a run for their money in last year’s Connacht final before losing by a goal. Mayo went all the way to the All-Ireland final before losing to Kildare.
“They've had a lot of days in the sun and certainly a lot more days in the sun than our boys. It is well documented at this stage that our lads at their age groups haven’t won a game in the championship; for us it very much a work in progress and doing the best we can with the players available to us.
“We are experimenting with different things and it is important that people never forget it is a work in progress.
“For us this Sunday it is about focussing on implementing our key performance indicators. We were excellent on implementing our key performance indicators against Mayo in the first half and it is about extending that a little longer into the second half and continue to show the fight and spirit we showed on Monday against Mayo.”
Due to third level college exams Gary McDaid will not get his squad together this week until tomorrow evening (Friday) and he has a session planned for Saturday also.
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