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McHugh clan relishing test against Donegal pals

By John Campbell

The GAA appears to be awash with irony right now. And Donegal certainly provide more than their fair share of it in the build-up to the start of the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup competition on Sunday.

Donegal will face UUJ in their opening match at Mac Cumhaill Park, Ballybofey and not only will the opposing managers be former team-mates but some of the Jordanstown side's members are established Donegal players.

Donegal boss Declan Bonner and UUJ manager Martin McHugh were in the Donegal side that won the All-Ireland title for the first time in 1992 while Ryan McHugh, Martin's son, is a driving force for the students.

In a neat family twist, Eoin McHugh, son of Martin's brother James who also played in the 1992 All-Ireland final, will also be lining out in what is a strong UUJ side.

Yet although they will be going in against what is perceived to be a weakened Donegal side, Martin McHugh believes that they will see doing so as a particular challenge.

"Obviously there's an added element of interest to this game. The fact that Donegal are fielding their Under-21 side makes it an intriguing contest but it's a game we are looking forward to," said Martin.

"Naturally, I would know most of the Donegal players at all levels so even though it will be an Under-21 side that will be put in front of us I don't believe that there will be any huge element of surprise.

"I think the Donegal team will relish the challenge and for our part we are very keen to make an impact in the competition."

Eoin McHugh had been anticipating that he would come up against some of his senior county colleagues but instead he will be facing a battery of players who are particularly keen to impress Donegal senior boss Rory Gallagher.

"I thought maybe that I would be having a bit of banter with some of the established players but this might not now be the case," smiled Eoin.

"The important thing from our perspective is that we are going to get at least three matches in the McKenna Cup and we see this as vital preparation for the forthcoming Sigerson Cup.

"We feel we have a decent side here at Jordanstown but we will only know our worth when we go in against Tyrone, Donegal and Cavan this month and you can't ask for a harder itinerary than that."

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