herald

Monday 16 July 2018

Donegal have to Erne it

TOP FORM: Michael Murphy
TOP FORM: Michael Murphy

Behind the fairytale story of Fermanagh's latest quest to end their Ulster famine lies a fascinating clash of styles.

Donegal, once the masters of blanket defence, are now scoring for fun.

And Fermanagh, now that Rory Gallagher has returned home after his spell in charge of Donegal, are one of the meanest defences around.

The scoring stats make for an eye-popping contrast.

Donegal have tallied 2-20 against Cavan, 2-16 against Derry and 2-22 against Down. While accepting the caveat of porous and/or listless opposition, their more attack-minded approach under Declan Bonner is reaping rich rewards coming after the spring speed bump of relegation.

Allied to the injection of energy provided by several gifted young guns - notably Jamie Brennan who shot 1-3 against Down - Donegal still retain a smattering of players among the best in the country. Michael Murphy, Paddy McBrearty and Ryan McHugh are all thrillingly in the zone.

But Fermanagh are a far more awkward test. Gallagher knows the opposition inside out; plus his team frustrated the life out of Armagh and then a fancied Monaghan that had just taken out Tyrone.

In two games they've totalled less (1-20) than Donegal managed in one go against Cavan or Derry. But they've also conceded a meagre 0-17.

Something has to give here.

ODDS: Donegal 1/6 Draw 14/1 Fermanagh 5/1

VERDICT: Donegal

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