Seasoned Donegal to prove a timely test for youthful Cork

Young Rebels will be looking to impress in headquarters semi-final clash

Everything has changed since these teams met in early February on a day of driving winds in Ballyshannon.

Cork suffered a rare defeat then, oppressed by the weather as much as the Donegal defence. But Cork have set the pace in the league.

Colm O’Neill in in good health and on song. He could become one of the names of this summer, the day star of a Cork attack which has the power to hurt big counties.

They are young and callow and full of running and will benefit from this run in Croke Park. But how will they ultimately set up? Do they try and adhere to the discipline of a heavily defensive system or trust their attacking instincts? Tomorrow may reveal a little more.

READ MORE

Pushing in the league makes sense for Cork given the structure of the Munster championship. Donegal’s intentions are less easy to read.

Michael Boyle has been Paul Durcan's understudy for some time but has started the last two games following the Four Masters man's involvement in a car crash and holds his place here, with Durcan on the bench. It is a big test: Durcan's kick outs have been a huge part of the Donegal success.

The fact that Donegal meet Tyrone on May 17th has been enough to convince many that they won’t be too interested in this. But they have named a strong side, with Michael Murphy returning after his suspension and Colm McFadden, sprung from the bench for most of the league, also coming back into the starting lineup. The turbo option of Darach O’Connor is among the names on the bench along with All-Star Neil Gallagher.

Terrific displays

Martin McElhinney gets a deserved start after his terrific displays in recent weeks and will probably pick up Cork’s

Eoin Cadogan

. Calling this game is difficult because of the question of Donegal’s intent.

A 50-minute push by what will be close to their championship selection may be all they want from this and their training programme may not permit anything more. But the suspicion is that seasoned Donegal are travelling to win.

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is a features writer with The Irish Times