Ballyshannon and Bundoran clash in south Donegal derby

St Eunan's, Letterkenny manager Rory Kavanagh will be hoping to retain their crown Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
St Eunan's, Letterkenny manager Rory Kavanagh will be hoping to retain their crown Picture: Margaret McLaughlin St Eunan's, Letterkenny manager Rory Kavanagh will be hoping to retain their crown Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

Donegal SFC

THE south Donegal derby clash of Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon and Realt na Mara, Bundoran is the stand out clash as the Donegal SFC swings into action this week.

These sides combined from the early 1960s to the mid 1970s and won the first unofficial All-Ireland title in 1968 under the St Joseph’s banner.

But there will be no love lost on Sunday with a hesitant vote going to Aodh Ruadh who have had a good League campaign under ex Kilcar boss John McNulty.

Reigning county champions St Eunan’s are fancied to retain the Dr Maguire Cup.

And they have a fairly gentle opener against a weakened St Naul’s side who have been relegated to Division Three.

The county champions cruised through the League and have a massive panel to pick from and could rack up a big score at home.

Elsewhere, recently crowned SFL champions Kilcar should have far too much for Division Two side Milford at Towney.

They won that League title without the likes of Ryan McHugh, Stephen McBrearty and Matthew McClean and are coming into real form at the right time.

The Barrett brothers Luke and Kane are key to Milford, but this looks like another fairly easy home win.

Down in scenic Maghargallon the mercurial boys from Gaoth Dobhair are strongly fancied to get the better of a struggling Ardara side who have been relegated to Division Two of the League.

The Gaeltacht boys have simply not built on the success of that great Ulster club title victory in 2018 and their form has been patchy ever since.

They still have Eamon and Neil McGee as well as Odhran MacNiallais but things have just not been happening for them-but they should not have too much difficulty on Sunday.

But the clash of St Michael’s and Sean MacCumhaill’s at The Bridge could be a much closer one to call.

Much depends if Oisin Gallen is back from the States for Sean MacCumhaill’s while if veterans Christy Toye and Colm McFadden are available, then St Michael’s chances are significantly increased.

St Michael’s have been in the top six clubs in the county for over a decade but just failed to break through while Gallen Josh Bradley Walsh, Kevin McCormack and Jamie Keegan are fine forwards for the visitors-but it might be just a home victory again.

Naomh Conaill have been the most consistent side in the county for the past seven or eight years.

It was a surprise in many quarters that they did not beat Kilcar in the League final as they have a truly massive panel.

On Sunday they travel to the Michael Murphy inspired Glenswilly and are warmly fancied to come away with a win.

Glenswilly were a tad surprisingly relegated to Division Two by a spirited Killybegs and could provide a bit of a backlash.

But the Ciaran Thompson inspired Naomh Conaill should have far too much in reserve for the hosts.

Meanwhile, in another south Donegal tie, a youthful home side Four Masters should have a tight battle with Cloughaneely in Tir Chonaill Park.

Well-known basketball coach Kevin Sinclair has been getting the best out of his young Masters charges while Cloughaneely have survived in Division One and they are also the reigning IFC champions.

On balance they should be a bit too powerful for the home side.

Finally the joust between Killybegs and Glenfin could be a real cracker at Fintra.

The young Killybegs side showed loads of grit and grace in ousting Glenswilly in a recent relegation play-off match and will be well geared for battle.

But much depends on the availability of their spiritual leader and county star, Hugh McFadden.

The very well drilled Frank McGlynn inspired Glenfin are well set up and have one of the fastest counter attacks in the county and have two great stars of the future in Shaun Ward and Luke McGlynn.

It would be no surprise if this one ended in a draw.