So we’ve finally found out who our opponents will be in next weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-final. I guess it’s no surprise that today’s Round 4B qualifier results have confirmed Donegal as the county we’ll be coming up against at Croke Park next Saturday evening (throw-in 6pm).
Tyrone’s win over Sligo in today’s opening 4B qualifier game at HQ raised the possibility of our meeting them instead next weekend. Despite their mounting injuries problems, however, Donegal did enough to account for the Tribesmen in the day’s second qualifier match. With a Donegal/Monaghan rematch at the quarter-final stage ruled out, that left us paired with Rory Gallagher’s charges instead.
Nobody needs reminding just how tough an assignment this is likely to be for us. Right up to their surprise Ulster final loss to Monaghan, Donegal were consistently priced at shorter odds than us for ultimate glory in this year’s championship and the narrow defeat they suffered on the same day that we closed out five Nestor Cup victories in a row doesn’t mean they’re suddenly a soft touch for us in the All-Ireland series.
Sure, injuries are taking their toll on what is the shallowest panel within the so-called Big Four but they’re still the most dangerous opponents we could have been paired with at the last eight stage. The challenge they’ll lay down to us is likely to be far greater than anything that Kildare or Fermanagh will muster against Kerry and Dublin respectively tomorrow. It’s a challenge we’ll need to be up for in every sense and I’ve every expectation we will be.