By Peter McNamara
Ulster Senior Football Championship
Donegal v Tyrone - 4pm, today, Ballybofey (live on RTÉ & BBC 2)
Rarely, if ever, can you say there are too many question marks about Tyrone’s preparations for an Ulster SFC tie to expect Mickey Harte’s side to progress in the competition, but that is certainly the case today as the Reds Hands pitch up in Ballybofey.
Donegal, All-Ireland finalists last year, host Harte’s charges and are primed to reach the quarter-final of the provincial championship, it seems.
The presence of Ryan McHugh in Gallagher’s half-back line provides Donegal with the ideal link operator again and he will relish the opportunity to penetrate Tyrone’s defensive lines from deep-lying areas throughout the afternoon.
Additionally, Odhrán Mac Niallais and Patrick McBrearty are both in superb form and will take some stopping by their direct markers.
Furthermore, Donegal boss Rory Gallagher has options such as Mark McHugh and Colm McFadden to enter the fray from the substitutes’ bench if required and generally, Donegal appear to be the more settled outfit of the two.
However, it would be naive to ever truly write Tyrone off as they still possess a host of top-class performers including Peter Harte who will have to produce another sterling display if the outsiders are to advance to meet Armagh in the last eight on June 14.
Still, Gallagher will have a plan in place to minimise the supply of high-quality possessions to Seán Cavanagh and that could well be decisive.
Leitrim v Galway - 3.30pm, today, Carrick-on-Shannon
Galway, with a Connacht SFC victory over New York behind them, meet Leitrim this afternoon in Carrick-on-Shannon and are expected to have far too much class in offensive areas in particular for their opponents.
These two sides have not met in the championship since 2008 so there is no reliable form-guide to assess, but it would be a major shock if the hosts manage to produce a match-winning performance.
Louth v Westmeath - 3.30pm, Drogheda
Louth overcame Westmeath in the Leinster SFC last year by five points but the latter can reverse the result today.
Granted, neither side has been in the best of form thus far this season as both will operate in lower league divisions in 2016 than they were this term with Louth banished to the fourth tier and Westmeath to the third.
Westmeath, though, were contesting in the secondary competition against a slightly higher class of opposition and that might stand to them here.