By Michael McMullan
IT’S amazing the difference a week can make and Donegal have found that out on the verge of Galway’s visit to Letterkenny on Sunday (12.30pm).
It’s the first of four games as Paddy Carr’s side aim to prise themselves away from the drop zone. The loss of skipper Paddy McBrearty to a serious hamstring injury was one thing, but defeat to Monaghan in a crunch game has left Donegal looking up an even steeper slope.
Former Donegal midfielder John Haran is a Hogan Cup teammate of Galway manager Pádraic Joyce – and selectors John Concannon and John Divilly – in their St Jarlath’s, Tuam days.
Now in his role as St Eunan’s chairman, Haran will be hoping his county will pick the trio’s pockets for two vital league points this weekend.
It’s been a testing opening spell for manager Carr and his management team who have had to dig out a new set of foundations in the absence of Michael Murphy.
With McBrearty gone, it leaves Donegal looking for more players to step up to the plate. As much as their Clones defeat was a disappointing one against a fellow struggler, there were a few positives.
Michael Langan made a first appearance of the season and kicked two points with Oisin Gallen continuing his Sigerson Cup form.
There is also Conor O’Donnell adding to the attacking mix with Eoghan Bán Gallagher also making a return to action.
Last season’s campaign saw Tyrone and Monaghan both escape the drop on the final day, with this year’s league campaign expecting to follow a similar trend of every game meaning something until the final whistle in round seven.
With Mayo (home), Armagh and Roscommon (both away) left to play, Sunday’s home advantage is something Donegal must use to their advantage.
Coming to town are a Galway side buoyed by victory over Tyrone despite the absence of Damien Comer, Shane Walsh and Rob Finnerty.
The counties last met three years ago, Donegal were seven points to the good until goals from Sean Kelly and Johnny Heaney reeled them in before points from Shane Walsh and Michael Daly saw Galway head home victorious.
Both teams ended the campaign safe in mid-table, but you get the feeling there is more at stake this weekend with Donegal needing to make the most of their home comforts.