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Donegal haven't hit peak yet: Rory

By John Campbell

Published 17/06/2015

Crushing blow: Karl Lacey of Donegal takes on Armagh’s Tony Kernan during his side’s hugely impressive 2-11 to 0-8 victory at the Athletic Grounds
Crushing blow: Karl Lacey of Donegal takes on Armagh’s Tony Kernan during his side’s hugely impressive 2-11 to 0-8 victory at the Athletic Grounds

Four teams remain standing in the race to the Ulster senior football championship title - and three of them have been left in no doubt that Donegal aren't planning to part company with the Anglo-Celt Cup.

While Fermanagh, Monaghan and Derry justifiably harbour ambitions that they can perhaps dislodge Rory Gallagher's side from their provincial throne, the man himself has already sent out a chilling warning as to just what he expects from his side.

Plaudits may have rained down on Donegal since their 2-11 to 0-8 destruction of hapless Armagh on Sunday but Gallagher has lost no time in underlining his desire to see an even more convincing display against Derry in the forthcoming semi-final.

"We may have beaten Tyrone and Armagh but you get anxious before every game," maintained Gallagher.

"We maybe took a few wrong options against Armagh so there is always something to work on for the game against Derry.

"Conditions for the game at the Athletic Grounds were very good and that helped us to play fluid football, especially in the first-half.

"Against Tyrone, I thought that we did not bring enough variety to our all-round game and we were also disappointed that we gave away a number of frees to the opposition.

"But against Armagh, with the conditions more favourable, we were able to execute tackles properly and it was pleasing for me that we did not concede a score-able free in the first-half especially."

It is rare indeed that Jamie Clarke ends up scoreless from play and Tony Kernan gets the chance to convert one point from a free - he landed two from play - but these statistics only serve to further highlight Armagh's woes last Sunday.

Now Derry must strive to succeed where the Orchard County failed abysmally but the fact that the Oak Leaf side have not won the Ulster title since 1998 and go into their last-four meeting with Donegal following a narrow one-point win over Down will hardly bolster their confidence.

Fermanagh's hopes of winning what would be the first Ulster title in their history have obviously been diluted following Donegal's master-class at the weekend.

And Monaghan's ambitions of repeating their 2013 triumph were not helped by a rather unconvincing display against Cavan when they were forced to come from behind to chisel out a 0-16 to 0-15 victory.

For Sunday's semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park, Fermanagh still have doubts surrounding skipper Eoin Donnelly and Ruairi Corrigan, both of whom are regarded as key players by manager Peter McGrath.

Donnelly's inclusion at midfield would certainly be a huge bonus given that Dick Clerkin, who is still an imposing player at 32 years of age, forcibly made his presence felt in the central zone when he entered the action as a second-half substitute for Monaghan to effectively turn the tide against Cavan.

Monaghan vs Fermanagh, Ulster SFC SF: Breffni Park, Sunday, 4pm

Belfast Telegraph

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