Cork skipper Graham Canty makes no bones about it — staying power has proven their trump card to date this year.
And he fears that the levels of stamina which the Ulster champions have revealed could yet torpedo his own team’s chances of reaching another All-Ireland final.
“Donegal are a very formidable outfit and they have got where they are by using the front door rather than the back door. This means they have had to play fewer matches and their energy levels are mind-boggling.
“They will be going flat out from the first to the last whistle on Sunday, you can be sure of that,” raps Canty.
No stranger to injuries, he has missed some of Cork’s more important matches in the recent past and admits that this is one of the reasons why he is particularly keen to face the Ulster champions.
“When you look at ourselves and Donegal, we have both beaten Kerry in important games this year and that tells you something. Kerry came back strongly at Donegal in the quarter-final but Jim McGuinness’ side still had enough in the tank to beat them and it was much the same with us in the Munster final because we finished on a high note,” reflects Canty.
He has become virtually conditioned to playing through the pain barrier but concedes that any player even marginally less than one hundred per cent fit could prove a liability for Cork on Sunday.
“Donegal have great pace and a powerful work ethic. They will stick to their game plan and keep coming at you.
“They give you no time on the ball, mark smartly and then break very quickly out of defence and often with devastating results,” stresses Canty.
Even though Kerry staged a strong rally against Donegal earlier this month, Canty never for a moment thought that Jim McGuinness’ side would lose the game.
“They kept their shape and their composure, maintained their discipline and managed to get a couple of breakaway scores near the finish that saw them over the line. That’s what we will have to expect on Sunday — Donegal have shown that they are masters of closing out games,” insists Canty.
Cork themselves have provided ample evidence that they can stay the distance with the best sides because of their physical prowess and strength on the bench.
“We have upwards on twenty-five players who are well capable of starting the game on Sunday. Obviously our manager can only start fifteen but it means we will have some exceptional talent on the bench,” declares Canty.