IT isn’t quite mission impossible, but Donegal manager Luke Barrett recognises that it’ll be no easy task to get the better of Derry in Saturday’s Ulster Minor Championship semi-final.
While Donegal scored a victory over Derry in the Ulster Minor League final just a short while ago, it’s been a different story in the championship, thus far at least.
The Oakleafers have been rampant, winning every single game they’ve played with plenty to spare, including a 3-12 to 0-6 group stage victory over Donegal.
Luke Barrett’s side have been patchy but they showed grit and determination to book their place in the semi-finals of the championship, coming back from six points down with five minutes to go to record a 1-11 to 2-7 victory over Cavan last weekend.
A little too close for comfort but their manager was pleased that they didn’t give up and the ghost and they now find themselves in the last four of the championship.
Barrett said: “We probably should’ve been ahead heading into the final misses but we’d a lot of missed chances and we conceded two goals at bad times which didn’t help matters.
“But it spoke volumes for the character of the players that they dug deep and never gave up. That’s something we’ve spoken about regularly, about trying to emulate the character of the people of Donegal and we certainly did that towards the end.”
It’s fair to say Donegal are underdogs for this weekend’s semi-final encounter against Derry on the back of a bruising defeat to the same outfit during the group stages. Derry look like the real deal but Barrett is hopeful that Donegal won’t be found wanting in terms of delivering a sustained effort on the day.
“It’s like trying to stop a runaway train, they’re a phenomenal team and phenomenally well-coached as well. Damian McErlain has a great backroom team and he’s a super coach himself.
“They’re backboned by a team that won last year’s Rannafast Cup comprehensively, and we’re under no illusions that we’re massive underdogs. I know it’s a cliché but it’s a reality, they’re beating teams by an average of 19 points and we lost to them heavily at Ballybofey.
“I suppose for us it’s a free hit. Nobody is expecting anything from us but we have the attitude of going out and giving everything for the cause. The one thing missing this year from us has been a complete performance and if we produce that standard on Saturday we’ll be happy whatever happens.”
Barrett also said he’s happy with the venue for Saturday’s match, namely Killyclogher. It isn’t a flashy county ground but it’s got everything you need in a venue, so he has no complaints.
“Killyclogher has a great playing surface and set-up so we’ve no disagreements with that at all.
“We’ve played in big stadiums, our own centre of excellence and various other places. Each one is a good experience for our lads so we don’t get too worked up about the venue.”