Getting the match-ups right has gone a long way for Kerry and Mayo in recent years. We think of Aidan O’Mahony on Michael Murphy in the 2014 final, Lee Keegan on Enda Smith in the 2017 All-Ireland quarter-final replay and just last weekend Patrick Durcan tagging Ryan McHugh.
In first-half injury time, with Mayo having pushed their advantage over a spluttering Donegal from two points down to six up, Fionn McDonagh hit Donegal’s Jamie Brennan with a ferocious, fair shoulder to win possession right in front of a heaving Gerry McDonald stand.
Former Donegal footballer Brendan Devenney expects Declan Bonner’s men to dump Mayo out of the championship this Saturday but believes Donegal, along with Kerry and Tyrone, are playing for second place thereafter, as Dublin will not be toppled.
Although some of the fizz has been taken out of the provincial championships since the introduction of the qualifiers back in 2001, there’s a semblance of a climactic feel to Donegal’s preliminary round opener against Cavan in Ballybofey tomorrow.