GAA Football

We must beat Tyrone to secure Division One survival says Donegal midfielder Hugh McFadden

Donegal's Hugh McFadden battles with Monaghan's Conor Boyle oduring Sunday's Division One clash in Ballyshannon. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

DONEGAL bounced back from two defeats in-a-row to topple Monaghan on Sunday – but goalscoring midfielder Hugh McFadden still feels they need to beat Ulster rivals Tyrone next time out to cement their Division One status.

Meath are already relegated, and a +18 scoring difference has put Donegal in the box seat to avoid joining the Royals, with Mayo and Monaghan also in the mix in the bottom half of the table.

With the Red Hands and reigning All-Ireland champions just a point ahead of the Tir Chonaill men, it promises to be an intriguing close to the League.

And McFadden believes victory in Ballybofey on March 14 is vital to ensure they aren’t heading to Tralee to face Kerry on the final day needing points to secure their survival.

“Given the Tyrone result last night [against Dublin], we’re still going to have to beat Tyrone in Ballybofey to make sure we’re safe,” said the towering Killybegs man.

“Tyrone are a fantastic team, it just shows the resolve they have after coming off that defeat against Galway to go and beat Dublin. Given the conditions it was very impressive.

“But this was a very important victory. Obviously after the disappointment of two defeats in-a-row against Galway and Dublin, it was very important to get the two points today.”

Tyrone and Donegal are scheduled to face off at the same venue nine weeks after their League encounter in a hotly-anticipated Ulster Championship clash on May 17.

Although the two counties know each other well, neither Declan Bonner or Mickey Harte is likely to give much away ahead of that game – and McFadden feels the League meeting will take on a life of its own.

“Thankfully that’s not up to me, that’s up to Declan and the management team to decide how we’re going to approach the game.

“Given the nature of the situation in the League, I think we have to win the game to rubber-stamp our status in Division One, so I’m sure it’ll be all guns blazing.”

And McFadden will be hoping to continue his rich vein of goalscoring form, after bagging majors against Dublin in Croke Park and then again in Ballyshannon as the Farneymen were swatted aside on Sunday.

“Shaun [Patton] hit a fantastic kick-out, it was good work by Paddy [McBrearty] and we probably couldn’t believe the amount of space we had when we were through on goal – I didn’t have much to do.

“That might’ve put it out the gate at the time… I’ve been very fortuitous the way it’s worked in the last two games. I’m playing a wee bit higher maybe when we’re in possession but nothing to read into too much. I’m sure other boys will be getting goals now soon.

“Luck was on our side, Ryan Wylie wasn’t long after getting sent off and obviously [Rory] Beggan, a fantastic keeper, they lost his influence from kick-outs.

“We’d have been doing something very bad if we’d lost it from that stage.”

He wasn’t the only man in scoring form either, with Michael Langan stealing the show in a stunning man-of-the-match performance, landing five points from play.

The languid Naomh Micheal man has started 2020 in impressive fashion after starring in Letterkenny IT’s unexpected run to the Sigerson Cup semi-final, and McFadden was quick to hail his midfield partner.

“Michael’s a phenomenal player,” he said.

“Five points from play is some kicking on any day and he was fantastic for LIT throughout their Sigerson run. He’s a big player, still only 22, he’s been around since 2017 so he has a lot of football played for a young fella.

“He’s a joy to watch at the moment.”

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