For the fourth time in five seasons, Donegal meet Tyrone in the Ulster Senior Football Championship on Sunday.
Very few teams have retained the upper hand over Tyrone for long in the Mickey Harte era, but remarkably, Donegal are bidding for a fourth consecutive championship win over the Red Hands, having beaten them in the Ulster Championship in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Tyrone’s relegation from the top tier, combined with fresh memories of a disappointing championship campaign in 2014, has led to fairly low expectations ahead of the summer.
However, the mood is a bit brighter following the success of the U21s who won the All-Ireland title earlier this month to lift morale.
“I think we’ve pulled ourselves up well. The boys know that the championship is coming up, it’s a championship buzz and everyone loves the championship,” said forward Darren McCurry.
They will line-up against Donegal without first choice goalkeeper Niall Morgan who has been ruled
out through injury. Clonoe’s Michael O’Neill takes over between the posts.
There is some good news with Sean Cavanagh cleared to play. Midfielder Padraig McNulty has been given his Ulster SFC debut.
Donegal have yet to name their team for Sunday’s encounter, but manager Rory Gallagher is thought to have a near fulldeck to choose from, with Darach O’Connor (knee) the only real concern after Mark McHugh, Martin McElhinney and Paddy McGrath returned to training in the last 10 days following recent injuries.
“We are really looking forward to it. At the start of the year I suppose it is the date that you are preparing for and everyone is working towards. The league is one thing, but it is all about the Championship,” said Donegal boss Rory Gallagher.
“We know we will face a tough challenge from Tyrone. They had a number of great results in the league, they drew with Dublin, they drew with Kerry and they beat Mayo – three of last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists.