McFadden is ready to banish hurt of Super 8s heartbreak
Getting to play their first game in Group 1 of the 'Super 8's' at home tomorrow has far-reaching effects for the hopes of Donegal this year, maintains their man-mountain midfielder Hugh McFadden.
Last year Donegal were forced to play Dublin in their first game, one that was designated as a 'neutral' round with all Super 8's teams having to play a round in Croke Park. Naturally, the unfairness that created, with Dublin getting two out of three games at home in the series, prompted a motion from the Donegal county board that was shot down.
The dissatisfaction still lingers on, but McFadden, vice-captain of the team now, will not be affected by it as Donegal have avoided Dublin's group.
"Last year we played away to Dublin, it's not an excuse, we didn't get up to the levels that day and that broke our momentum," said the Killybegs schoolteacher.
"But we can't make excuses. We had a home game against Tyrone, it was set up for us to deliver a performance to get through but Tyrone were far better than us on the day.
"This year it gives you a chance to continue your momentum to the second week, but if you don't have your house in order, you are going away to Galway or Mayo to get two points.
"It throws up and lot of different possibilities but whatever team can perform consistently to the highest level is going to get through, regardless of whether it is away, home or in Croke Park. Dublin have done that we cannot hide away from that there."
Can Dublin be caught though?
"If you look at any team that has been at the highest level for a couple of years like the Mayo team, they built that right up from 2011; Tyrone have been coming now for a long time," McFadden adds.
"I don't think there is such a thing as 'we are going to give it a rattle this year'. You have to be on the road for a few years to get up to the level; the core of that Dublin team has been coming and coming and coming with years of expertise behind them."
Elsewhere this weekend, on Saturday evening a test of sorts could arrive for Dublin as they get down to the business aspect of trying to become the first team to win five All-Ireland titles in a row.
Cork are coming to Croke Park feeling a little better about themselves than they would have on March 24, when despite defeating Armagh in the Athletic Grounds, they were relegated to Division Three.
Since then, manager Ronan McCarthy has managed to revive them on the basis of what we have seen so far. They got past Limerick in Munster before giving Kerry a bigger game of it in the Munster final than anyone might have expected.
But doing that to an over-confident and callow Kerry side might be one thing, playing Dublin in Croke Park is another thing altogether.
All of that almost seems like a warm-up for the main dish.
A spicy tie awaits in Group 1 on Sunday when the ultimate survivors Mayo travel to face Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium.
Since the All-Ireland semi-final replay that was moved to Limerick in 2014, this rivalry has become one of the most combustible in Gaelic football.
Mayo, of course, have already beaten Kerry this season in round six of the National League, while they also came out on top in the league final. They are the only side to beat Peter Keane's young team this year.
Already this week, the various voices that are semi-representative of each camp have been laying the ground and referee Sean Hurson of Tyrone will be under the most intense of pressure come throw-in on Sunday afternoon (4pm).