By Michael McMullan
DONEGAL minors’ defeat to Sligo at the weekend made no difference with Luke Barrett’s side already qualified for a spot in Saturday’s league final (Glen 12 noon) against Derry.
Their victory over Tyrone ensured they topped the group on head-to-head and they take on an Oakleafers’ side with a 100 per cent record to their name.
“They got a look at us against Down, but we haven’t had a look at them at all, but we’d expect them to be a step up for anything so far,” said Derry manager Damian McErlain.
“They are well organised and the fact they have got a look at us already (against Down) will give them a wee edge, but I must say I am looking forward to it.”
Donegal made wholesale changes last weekend and were hit for a late goal in a game that saw key players Ronan Maher and Eoghan Scott back in action.
Derry lost last year’s Ulster final to Tyrone and were narrowly beaten by eventual All-Ireland champions Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
With Martin Boyle moving up to u-20 manager, McErlain – who managed Derry to the 2015 and 2017 Ulster Minor titles – returns after a spell away from management following his stint as county senior manager.
Captain Fionn McEldowney, Cahir Spiers, John Boyle, Johnny McGuckian and Conall Higgins remain from last season.
“We have rotated selections in all the league games to give players as many games as possible,” McErlain said.
“We made 10 changes for the Antrim game. The league was about teams trying out to see where their players were at and we are no different.”
Donegal manager Barrett told the Donegal News that aside from a knock picked up by Eoin Gallagher everyone else is available for selection.
“We trained well on Monday. Anybody who needed to rest up was able to do that last week,” he said.
“We’re using the league final as preparation for the championship so there is no easing off at training this week.”
While Saturday will give both teams a chance to get their hands on the Jim McGuigan Cup, they’ll meet again in the group stages of the championship that swings into action in mid-April.