Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: This is the one

THERE has been a lot of giving out about the lack of championship feel to the games up until now.

This will all disappear on Saturday evening when close neighbours Donegal and Derry lock horns.

Whatever the result on Saturday, one thing is for sure it will look and feel like a proper championship game.

These two teams have had this date etched in their minds since the draw was made but for very different reasons.

Derry know that this is the start to what could be their best chance of lifting Sam since 1993 and Donegal know that this is the acid test in terms of finding out exactly where they are.

I’ll take a look at Donegal first. This year under Jim McGuinness, everyone seems to be buying into what he is trying to do and at the end of the day that is all you can really ask for.

We have made a swift return to Division One which is great for our overall development, but the big thing is that we haven’t had a proper test yet. You can be certain this will definitely come on Saturday.

Jim has had a number of months to plan for this ambush so it would be silly of us to think that he hasn’t got a plan in place to try and catch Derry on the hop.

Derry pose so many different threats that I expect Donegal to play a very conservative game. The one area where I do expect pressure is on the Derry kick-out.

I actually think that Odhrán Lynch will see pressure like he has never seen before. Lynch starts so many of the Derry attacks so McGuinness always likes to go after a team’s strength so I feel this is one area Donegal will hunt down.

I also feel that with Shaun Patton in goals, Donegal will opt to bypass Brendan Rogers and Conor Glass and hope to get in behind the Derry defence.

The big thing for Donegal is the availability of some key players and, given how McGuinness operates, we won’t know who is fit until the ball is thrown in.

From a Derry point of view, this is the first step on what they hope will be a journey that will take them to the top.

They have proved over the last few years that they can go toe to toe with any team and any system so this will be just another step for them.

A win here will be a massive statement that they are ready for all coming their way this season.

Like I explained earlier, Jim is going to come with something different so it will be interesting to see how they deal with this.

If you are asking me who will win, then, based on where both teams are in terms of their development, I would have to say Derry.

I don’t actually think Donegal need a win if that makes sense. I actually think that a good competitive performance and running Derry close will do wonders for what Jim is trying to create.

I fully understand that a win makes the run in for Sam a hell of a lot easier. But, at the minute, in Donegal it’s about seeing constant progress rather than title wins so that’s why I say that a very good performance on Saturday is key for Donegal.

Derry should win the game and I think they will so I’ll say Derry by two in the end.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW