Karl Lacey is one of very few Donegal players who have sampled success since the team won the National League title under Brian McIver in 2007.
Lacey played a key role in driving UUJ to success in the Sigerson Cup in 2008 and is now anxious to see his native county enjoy a change of fortune in the championship arena.
It was Donegal’s shock defeat by Antrim that initially transformed the complexion of the current Ulster series and Lacey, like his colleagues, is hoping that the All Ireland qualifiers will provide a recovery route.
Tomorrow, Lacey will again help to anchor the Donegal defence against lowly Carlow in the All Ireland qualifiers at Ballybofey where anything other than a handsome win for the much-changed home side would be an even bigger shock than their collapse against the Saffrons, who went on to beat Cavan and secure a place in the Ulster Final where they will face Tyrone.
“We have paid the penalty for losing to Antrim but now is the time to reclaim our pride and show that we are a better team than many people believe us to be,” insists Lacey.
Manager John Joe Doherty, having axed Neil Gallagher and Ciaran Bonner for disciplinary reasons, has also dispensed with Michael Hegarty and Colm McFadden. Brendan Boyle is injured.
Young guns Stephen Griffin, outstanding when Donegal won the McKenna Cup, David Walsh and Leo McLoone are all introduced to the attack while Frank McGlynn returns to the defence and Christy Toye and Kevin Cassidy will now form the midfield. Michael McGuire, one of Donegal’s few competent performers against Antrim, has been suffering from a dead leg of late but should be fit.
Donegal received a boost when they beat Sligo by 1-19 to 0-8 in a challenge game recently – but it’s tomorrow night’s result that will either rekindle fresh hope or see the team slide into oblivion.DONEGAL: P Durcan; F McGlynn, N McGee, K Lacey; B Dunnion, E McGee, N McGuire; C Toye, K Cassidy; R Kavanagh, L McLoone, D Walsh; C Dunne, M Murphy, S Griffin.