BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Read how Donegal can overcome Tyrone on Saturday evening

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN:  Read how Donegal can overcome Tyrone  on Saturday evening

Brian McEniff

It will all come down to Donegal's attitude on Saturday evening in Healy Park, Omagh in the opening game of the National League. Donegal need to have a high power of concentration from the start to the finish and if they can do that they can begin the season on a winning note.
We should have no fear of going to Omagh. I know Tyrone have been at the top table for a long number of years now but even going back to my time, we never had any big fear of going to Tyrone.
The pitch at Healy Park is a big pitch and it should suit us.
Tyrone have a new management team with (Brian) Dooher and (Feargal) Logan taking over and they are playing at home and will be determined to win that first match. Mickey Harte is gone after managing the team since 2002.
On paper Tyrone seem to have a very strong squad, but like any other county, they can only play 15 and as well, we've had it over them for a period of time. But mind you, that won't matter for much on Saturday night.
Donegal should be smarting from the defeat to Cavan in the Ulster final last year, but again, that won't win the match for us.
It's all about how we cope with what is put in front of us. Tyrone have extra power with the return from Australia of Conor McKenna. He did well against us in the league in Ballybofey last year but he didn't have as big an influence the second day in the championship.
Another major plus for them is the return of Cathal McShane. The full-forward had major surgery and has had time to recover and should be match fit, which will be a boost for them.
But we also have a good squad of players. I hear that there will be extra subs allowed and that gives a good chance to run with players. However, we will still want to stay in Division One.
With just three games and two of them away from home, it will take two wins to be absolutely safe and that's a tall order but it can be done.
I don't know what 15 Declan Bonner will start with but I would imagine there would be 10/11 of the team that played Cavan in last year's Ulster final on that starting team.
I would urge us to use the width of the field in Omagh. It is over 100 yards wide, one of the widest in the country. The likelihood is we will play with two up front and I would like to see Michael Murphy on the edge of the square, to give them something to think about.
Who does he pick to start alongside Murphy? Patrick McBrearty was struggling for fitness last year, but should be sharp now. Jamie Brennan didn't have his best Ulster final but can learn from that and he usually plays well against Tyrone.
We will need a strong workrate in the midfield sector. Wing half-backs and wing half-forwards will need to be up and down the pitch. Those players have been training on their own during the lockdown and should have a good level of fitness. Tyrone will be well marshalled under the new management
Saturday's is a game which would be very important to win. It would set you up well for the league with Monaghan coming to Ballybofey the following Saturday.
Unfortunately, there will be no spectators allowed. Joe McQuillan has charge and he has been the man with the whistle for a big number of Donegal-Tyrone games in recent times but he is an experienced official.
It will not come down to the referee, but to our own attitude. We just cannot let our concentration drop and a win would be good for the county after the Ulster final defeat to Cavan last year.
It's a new year and we have three Gaoth Dobhair men back, Odhrán Mac Niallais, Odhrán McFadden Ferry and Kieran Gillespie. I want to wish Declan, Michael Murphy and all the players and management the very best. We will be tuned in and watching.
I also want to wish Mickey Harte well in his new role as manager of Louth. I have a soft spot for the Wee County, having spent some time there, and I expect them to be promoted from Division Four.

FIXTURES
It looks as if we have a plan now for the return of club football in Donegal with a nine game league starting in June with promotion and relegation.
It will be a good run-in to the club championship at the latter end of the season. And I see they have dates to fit in the county final from last year also.
Finally, this week, congratulations to Mickey McCann and the hurlers on a great win over Roscommon on Sunday last. They showed grit and determination and got their rewards. It is a tough league as they head to Kildare this weekend but they are making progress. They have taken it up a notch which is great to see for hurling in the county.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

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