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Determined Donegal can master Dublin, says McGrath

By John Campbell

Donegal defender Paddy McGrath has listened to all the talk surrounding the 'formality' of Dublin taking delivery of the Sam Maguire Cup.

Yet while there appears to be a general consensus that Jim Gavin's side will reign supreme when the third Sunday in September comes round, the tigerish-tackling McGrath remains unconvinced their success will be a straightforward exercise.

"I haven't seen a lot of them but they look impressive," he concedes.

"They are a good outfit, probably one of the best in the country, so it will be a big effort from us on Saturday if we are to beat them. But who is writing us off - is it the media or pundits?"

Rarely have two matches on the same bill of fare triggered as much interest as Donegal's joust with the Dubs and Tyrone's set-to with Mayo.

Like his playing colleagues, McGrath is clearly rankled that Donegal are regarded as an ageing team because of the number of veterans they parade.

The players and manager Rory Gallagher came in for heavy criticism within the county following the recent Ulster final defeat to Tyrone but last Saturday's victory over Cork has reinvigorated the side.

"We were being written off before we met Dublin in 2014 so you could say we are used to this by now," points out McGrath.

"It did us no harm in the past and it will do us no harm this time round. There was a tremendous atmosphere before the 2014 game and it will be the same again on Saturday.

"Everyone gets caught up in the excitement. Donegal people love to get a day out in Croke Park. There is always good banter with the Dublin fans because they are great craic.

"I know a few people from having lived there and I expect to be getting texts from them between now and Saturday. This all helps to set the tone for the game."

Patrick McBrearty's stunning solo show when he hit 11 points against Cork has spawned speculation that he can prove a thorn in the side of the Dublin defence - so much so, indeed, that the capabilities of the other Donegal forwards tend to be overlooked.

"There is no doubt that Patrick is a very capable player," muses McGrath. "Indeed, he is one of the best in Ireland. His performance against Cork was fantastic. Now we just need him doing more and more of that kind of scoring."

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