Preview: Ulster SFC - Donegal v Antrim
Sunday May 21
Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Donegal v Antrim, Ballybofey, 4pm
By William Dunne
Despite concerns over the senior departures in the Donegal squad they didn’t show many signs of a team in ‘transition’ during the Allianz Football League and were close to contesting a Division 1 Final against Dublin, only to fall short against Mayo in the last round.
Players like Ciaran Thompson and Hugh McFadden have seriously impressed in this new look squad despite fears that the side may lack experience in crucial positions.
Earlier in the week former manager Jim McGuinness made note that although they may have lost some key figures, they possess two of the best forwards in the country.
“That’s why it was such a good spring for us, what we have that a lot of other teams don’t have is we’ve marquee forwards. And I think team’s that have won an All-Ireland have a Michael Murphy, a Paddy McBrearty in their ranks”, he said.
Although Antrim finished last in the league, Division 3 was a cut throat environment and they did manage to record victories over Sligo and Laois.
Antrim tend to rely heavily on free-taker CJ McGourty, who impressed throughout the league, but they’ll be hoping for strong performances from Conor Murray and Paddy McBride if they are to have the slightest hope of causing an upset on Sunday.
With both Donegal and Tyrone on this side of the draw it means it will be particularly difficult for Antrim to reach an Ulster decider, but they will hope to cause Rory Gallagher's charges problems.
Matthew Fitzpatrick's availability ensures the Saffrons can include a potent forward in attack and the underdogs will be striving to make a solid start in Ballybofey.
Fermanagh and Limerick defeated Antrim in the 2016 Championship so the Saffrons are particularly keen to take a scalp this summer.
DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Martin Reilly, Frank McGlynn, Caolan Ward; Jason McGee, Ciaran Thompson; Micheal Carroll, Hugh McFadden, Ryan McHugh; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan.
ANTRIM: Chris Kerr; Peter Healy, Patrick Gallagher, Conor Hamill; Paddy McBride, Paddy McAleer, Sean McVeigh; Declan Lynch, Stephen Beatty; Ruairi McCann, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Mark Sweeney; CJ McGourty, Brendan Bradley, Tomas McCann.