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Restoring pride is driving factor for Donegal's Colm McFadden

By John Campell

Long-serving Donegal forward Colm McFadden makes no bones about it – pride is the incentive as his side seek to reclaim the Ulster Championship title which they won in 2011 and 2012.

It was an inspired Monaghan outfit that robbed Jim McGuinness's side of a coveted hat-trick of provincial honours last year and McFadden, still a rich source of scores, believes that renewed pride will underpin their Championship endeavours.

Donegal will face Monaghan in the Division Two league final at Croke Park on Sunday week, anxious to turn the tables on Malachy O'Rourke's team before turning their attention to what is now an even more alluring Ulster Championship quarter-final confrontation with Derry at Celtic Park on May 25.

Last year, Donegal slid into Division Two after a lacklustre league campaign prior to losing the Ulster final and then surrendering tamely to Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

But McFadden insists there will be no repeat of those inept performances this time round.

"Our priority in the league was to get back up into Division One and having achieved that we would now like to win the Division Two title by beating Monaghan," points out Letterkenny schoolteacher McFadden.

"After that, our whole focus will be on the Championship meeting with Derry. We will have exactly four weeks after the divisional final to make sure that we are ready for Derry and we aim to make the most of that period to get into tip-top shape.

"The fact that Derry have reached the Allianz League final, in which they will be meeting Dublin on the same bill that we will play Monaghan, has added an extra dimension to our Championship game and we know that we are in for a very stiff test against Brian McIver's side, who have been very consistent this year."

Manager McGuinness is certainly not making any major concessions to youth in his concerted effort to recapture success for Donegal.

When his side beat Armagh in round seven of the league earlier this month, no fewer than 11 players from the 2012 All-Ireland final starting line-up were included.

"There is a great commitment on the part of all the players and we just want to keep working hard," states McFadden.

"We were happy to come out of Armagh with the win that secured our promotion.

"I know that Armagh manager Paul Grimley was less than impressed with the referee that day, although I have to say for my part that in the 140-odd games I have played for Donegal I was seldom pulled and hauled as much as I was in that match. But we knew it was going to be a tough battle because Armagh were fighting for their lives."

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