Football

Donegal look to get back to winning ways in Clare encounter

The Tír Chonaill side were overturned by Cork two weeks ago

Jim McGuinness talks to the Donegal players during their All-Ireland SFC clash with Tyrone at Ballybofey
Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Jim McGuinness hopes to see Donegal bounce back against Clare after defeat to Cork. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

All-Ireland SFC Group 3, round three

Donegal v Clare (Saturday, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 3pm)

DONEGAL will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they lock horns with Clare in Castlebar.

And while the defeat to Cork will have stung, it was not fatal and may well be the means for some refocus.

An unbeaten record can easily grow into a burden and some believe that the reversal to the Rebels will arrest some dangerous hype in the county following their second defeat of Tyrone.

Cork hit Donegal with the perfect ambush, using their considerable physique to target some of Tir Chonaill’s smaller players.

After two defeats, the Bannermen have pretty much nothing to lose today and would dearly love to spoil Donegal’s party.

Jim McGuinness, though, will be hoping for a bit of a bounce-back after the defeat to the Leesiders.

A cause of concern was the fact that talismanic midfielder Jason McGee had to go off injured in the second half of that game.

McGee and Michael Langan have developed into a formidable midfield duo with great physicality and ball-playing skills into the bargain.

The forwards are pretty lethal with Oisin Gallen leading the way in the scoring stakes, while Niall and Shane O’Donnell have worked tirelessly in creating space and scores.

The two-week rest will have given the side a chance to recharge after a most gruelling campaign in Ulster.

The Banner county gave Kerry a good game for long periods in the Munster final, but they seem to have slipped a bit in the interim.

They have a strong physical presence around the middle in the shape of Cillian Rouine and Darragh Bohannon.

The athletic Ikem Ugwueru scored a wonderful goal against Kerry and Jim McGuinness’s men should be wary of his direct running prowess.

Five of the Clare side that lost to Kerry were playing in their first Munster final and that is a big statistic.

Donegal, in contrast, have a fair bit of experience and youth in their ranks.

Brendan McCole and Caolan McGonagle are powerful anchors while Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher, Ryan McHugh, Peadar Mogan and Ciarnan Moore possess eye-catching pace.

The only caveat it is that Moore is the only out-and-out defender – although he can still be pretty versatile and is well able to attack at pace like the other three if needed.

Donegal will be keen to get back on track despite the long trip to Castlebar.

That defeat to the Rebels will have given them a greater perspective on where they stand in the grand order of things.

However, McGuinness is a man of endless ambition so expect a Donegal victory  with quite a bit to spare.