Donegal prepped and ready to go thanks to Leo Murphy Cup
Ulster U20 FC quarter-final: Donegal v Monaghan (Today, Ballyshannon, 1pm)
DONEGAL U20 manager Shaun Paul Barrett says his squad's involvement in the Leo Murphy Cup was an invaluable asset to their preparations for the Ulster Championship.
Barrett's charges host Monaghan in Ballyshannon at lunchtime today, a week on from the game's postponement due to Storm Dennis. The former Ulster minor-winning manager is content with the work the panel have put in ahead of the clash with the favourites for the competition.
“The target from day one was Monaghan in the first round of the Championship and that's what we've been preparing for the last couple of months,” he said.
“The [Leo Murphy] league was a big opportunity for us to pit ourselves against quality teams, like we did there against Derry, Roscommon and Mayo. The games we played were better than challenge games.
“There's a lot of things we needed to do in terms of our own players and needed to improve. Hopefully, we've done that. We drew against Derry in a game we should have won, then we won against Roscommon on a very bad day in Ballyshannon, then we drew with Mayo, which we were disappointed with because we were two points up going into the last couple of minutes, but that's the way it is. It showed us a lot about where we are and what we can do.”
Donegal will have Rory O'Donnell, Conor Caul and Johnny McGuddy available after it was confirmed they can compete in both schools and inter-county competitions at the same time, while rising star Aaron Doherty is also set to start.
“There was some kind of rule there passed that players couldn't play for the U20s if they were still in the MacLarnon or MacRory cups, which affected us because we've three lads playing for Milford and that would've ruled them out, but that has been resolved and thankfully they're available to us,” Barrett added.
“Aaron Doherty is a very good lad and we're delighted to have him. Aaron has the potential to play at the very highest level. He is a really capable player, with a lot of talent, great attitude, works really hard. A nicer lad you wouldn't meet like.”