Donegal Can Soar In Ballybofey Cauldron
Following their All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (SFC) final loss to Kerry last September, Donegal were bizarrely dismissed as a side whose future appeared to be bleak, especially as Jim McGuinness was moving on to pastures new.
Yet, Rory Gallagher’s appointment as boss was a shrewd move by their County Board given his presence on the sidelines during McGuinness’ reign was a positive representation, in the minds of the players, of what Donegal have been about in recent years, competing for and winning trophies again.
Donegal are the 100-30 second favourites to lift the Anglo-Celt Cup while Tyrone have been installed as a 9-1 shot.
The reality is though, were it not for goalkeeper Paul Durcan’s calamitous error against Kerry last year Donegal could well be defending All-Ireland champions.
Tyrone’s recent success at U21 level is a psychological boost to the county but Donegal have a more settled senior unit.
In the noughties, Tyrone were considered by bettors as a team to trust more often than not.
However, times have changed significantly and presently it is Donegal that punters are more inclined to support with their hard-earned money.
The Ulster SFC has, of course, the potential to throw up the odd victory for an outsider but Donegal seem to have the Indian Sign over Mickey Harte’s outfit with championship victories over their rivals in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Additionally, when the sides met just seven weeks ago in the league Gallagher’s side trounced red-faced Tyrone 1-13 to 0-6.
In fact, in those four aforementioned encounters Tyrone failed to raise a green flag against Donegal and given it is likely the Red Hands will need to score at least one goal tomorrow that particular statistic does not bode well for their chances.
Still, Tyrone are 4-5 to register a goal.
The unavailability of first-choice goalkeeper Niall Morgan could hurt Tyrone’s chances of prevailing in Ballybofey, especially as he could have contributed in the region of three or four points from placed balls for the Red Hands.
Donegal have decided to keep Colm McFadden in reserve on this occasion and he is a brilliant option to introduce to their attack if required.
Donegal, in fact, have named 10 of the 15 that started the 2014 All-Ireland final and can boast a formidable half-back line consisting of Ryan McHugh, Karl Lacey and Frank McGlynn while talismanic Michael Murphy is full-forward.
Donegal are understandably odds-on with BoyleSports to qualify for the Ulster SFC quarter-final and supporting them at evens to advance by at least three points is worth a punt.
Of course, this tie could have ‘ambush’ written all over it however Gallagher’s men have accrued invaluable experience in the last 18 months especially and can post a match-winning total to frustrate Harte’s Tyrone.
Additionally, Donegal’s in-form roaming corner-forward Patrick McBrearty should be worth a bet at 10-1 in the RTÉ Man of the Match market.
Similarly, the effervescent Odhrán Mac Niallais seems overpriced at 16-1 in the same market.
*Prices correct at time of publication.