Donegal will form a major obstacle for us again: Holmes
The Ulster minor football championship clicks into top gear tonight when eight counties will bid to advance in the competition.
The clash of Donegal and Tyrone at Ballybofey (6pm) would appear to hold particular appeal since the Red Hands have already won the Ulster minor league and are intent on adding the championship title to this.
Manager Collie Holmes acknowledges that Donegal will be a tough obstacle.
"We might have gone undefeated in the league which has just been finished. We were a bit wary at the start but the team knuckled down and we are now a very close group," explains Holmes. "But this guarantees us nothing against Donegal. When we met in the league it was very tight and we just managed to get across the line so we expect it to be just as difficult tonight."
Reigning provincial champions Monaghan travel to Belfast to meet Antrim at Corrigan Park (6pm) boosted by their 1-13 to 1-10 preliminary round win over Down last weekend. Jason Irwin, Diarmuid Marron and Liam McDonald are key figures in the Farney team's attack and Antrim skipper Ruairi Hagan is aware of the danger they can pose.
"We know that Monaghan are a good side but our team is comprised of a good bunch of lads who work hard together. Our training has gone well and we're happy to be at home," says Hagan.
New Armagh minor boss Ciaran McKeever gets his first taste of action at this level when his side confront Derry at the Athletic Grounds (6pm). Sean McVerry skippers an orchard county side that will be underdogs against a Derry side that includes three members of the famous Downey sporting family, brothers Calum and Enda and their cousin Matthew.
Calum and Enda are sons of Seamus Downey who played for Derry in their successful surge to the All-Ireland senior title in 1993 while Matthew's father is Henry Downey who captained that team.
Fermanagh, meanwhile, will make the short trip across the border to meet neighbours Cavan (6pm). The Erne outfit's joint captains Aaron Jones and Fergal Quinn are united in the belief that their team can derive inspiration from the St Michael's College, Enniskillen feat in winning the All-Ireland Colleges' Hogan Cup competition.
"I think St Michael's have set an example for all Fermanagh clubs and county teams going forward," states Quinn.