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Sunday 23 September 2018

Cavan to fall in fortress Ballybofey

 

POWER: Paddy McBrearty
POWER: Paddy McBrearty

Major question marks hang over the involvement of Dara McVeety, Caoimhín O'Reilly and Jason McLoughlin for Cavan, all of whom missed their thrilling, goal-glut of a Division 2 final with Roscommon in Croke Park last month.

McVeety, in particular, would be an immense loss should be fail to prove his fitness, after a spring in which he was arguably the second tier's most accomplished performer.

To qualify for the Ulster quarter-final against Derry, Mattie McGleenan's team must also overcome a statistic that shouldn't really matter - but does somehow.

A 1-15 to 2-10 loss against Down, after extra-time, in May 2010, was Donegal's last defeat in Ballybofey in either League or Championship football. Since then, they are unbeaten in 20 League and Championship games at MacCumhaill Park, even if the extension of that record by virtue of drawing with Mayo on the last day of the League wasn't enough to spare Declan Bonner's team from relegation.

Donegal's spring wasn't an altogether happy one although the flashes of brilliance from Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty were legitimate causes for optimism, particularly if the latter can avoid injury.

Remarkably, Michael Murphy will captain Donegal for the 40th time in a Championship match and even if he never found his best material during the League, his form remains utterly essential to Donegal's well-being.

For all the talk of tactical evolution in both camps these past few months, Donegal's running game remains their most efficient mode of attack.

They may have swapped divisions this spring but Donegal should progress.

ODDS: Donegal 4/11, Draw 8/1, Cavan 3/1

VERDICT: Donegal

  • Ulster SFC Prelim Rd Donegal v Cavan (Ballybofey, Tom, 4.0)

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