BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Anxious wait for all as we prepare for Tyrone on Sunday

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN:  Anxious wait for all as we prepare for Tyrone on Sunday

It will be an anxious week for all intercounty teams and managers, and especially our own Declan Bonner, as the National League resumes this week.
I'm saying it will be anxious because no team are fully aware of where they are at. Because they haven't played together for seven or eight months, it will be difficult for all involved.
I was talking to Declan recently and he told me that there was a lot of work to do when the boys came back from their clubs. There is a huge difference between club fitness and county fitness. Much time has been spent in getting all concerned up to speed.
But what is good from a Donegal point of view is that we seem to have a clean bill of health. Everyone seems to be playing, but despite that it will be a shot in the dark for all teams this weekend.
As regards Donegal and Tyrone, neither team will be that prepared. They have work done but they will not really know where they are at until Sunday evening.
Donegal had two challenge games in the past two weekends, both in Sligo, against Mayo and Roscommon. I gather they played four quarters of 20 minutes against Roscommon and having done that in the past, sometimes you get a good look at players in the first and second quarter, but then it can deteriorate. Last weekend was not ideal weatherwise with wind and rain and the sod at the Sligo Centre of Excellence can be heavy.
The week before they played Mayo in Markievicz Park and by all accounts it was a game of two halves. Donegal had the wind in the opening half and did well but then made many changes at the break. I presume Declan wanted to give all the panel a chance, which is only right.
He will be happy that he had the Kilcar and Naomh Conaill contingent back for the challenge game against Roscommon last weekend and they will be a huge boost to training as well.
But overall, it is very hard to prepare, especially in the present climate.
But in relation to Sunday's game, I feel that having them at home in MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey, even if are not fully sharp, we should have enough to beat them. Can any team be sharp at this time?
It would be nearly impossible to be match sharp, but playing at home with a full squad should give Donegal an edge.
It is sad that we have to play them now and then again in a fortnight's time in the championship. But that's football, you can't pick who you are playing against.
I'm looking forward to the game on Sunday. There is always a great rivalry between Donegal and Tyrone and they were not playing against Donegal, I would always have a great grá for Tyrone because of my mother being from Carrickmore.
There hasn't been a kick of a ball between them in recent times. Tyrone have Mattie Donnelly back and playing well but big (Cathal) McShane is a big loss. Then they have also lost Colm Cavanagh to retirement. He was a great old warrier, a great sweeper and read the game so very, very well.
Mickey Harte doesn't do challenge matches. He uses in-house games, similar to Dublin. Mickey has his own way and he has proved a very good man in that respect. It is only two years since he was in an All-Ireland final.
As for Donegal Oisin Gallen is a very good addition. I have been most impressed by him in recent club games. I saw him recently up close and he's filled out well.
I feel both sides will be setting up defensively at the start but I think we have the superior forwards to take us through.
There are interesting times elsewhere with Jim McGuinness involved with Galway at the weekend. I don't know what the position is long-term but Jim brings a lot to the table. He and (Padraic) Joyce were in college together and obviously there is a relationship there. He would be a big addition and it is good to see him back in football.
I can't wish him too much luck at this stage.
I feel Galway will be too strong for Mayo in Tuam this weekend and they are going well.
The Dubs - could it be a year that they could be toppled. They still have a lot of good players but I was sorry to see that Diarmuid Connolly retired. He was a player I much admired, one you would pay to go in to see.
It is good that the Donegal game against Tyrone is on TG4 and I hear that all of the games will be available on some format.

HOUSE DRAW
I want to give everyone a remindere about the Co Board draw for the house in Dublin. It is important that the 40 odd clubs put the shoulder to the wheel for the run-in.
I know it is a tight time to be looking for 100 euro. But there won't be a lot of money coming out of central funds because they don't have it this year. We have to do what we can. In relation to facilities, we had been behind, but with the Convoy development now, we have a home at last. Indeed, there have been great improvements in grounds all around the county since I started playing.

BE CAREFUL
Finally, I want to make a plea to everyone to be careful in the coming weeks. The Covid situation is not brilliant. All the football could come to a sudden halt if things don't improve. We need to get the league finished now and hopefully we might get an All-Ireland as well.
Hopefully, our neighbours Fermanagh will be able to field this weekend, as they were badly hit.
We all need to be very careful. We must be lying fourth in the Covid table in country at the moment. It's up to everyone to take it on board and be careful.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

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