Alan Foley looks at the battles that could swing the game.
Rory Gallagher v Mickey Harte
One of the most fascinating battles on Sunday will take place on the sidelines. Donegal showed against Monaghan they’re more than willing to slow the game to an almost standstill and not kick away possession. Both sides are masters of the counter-attack but nowadays Tyrone have more speed in that department. Expect both to try and draw out their opponents in an effort to try and create space when on the ball, and when without it. It’s all about the turnover and speed of attacks.
Michael Murphy v Justin McMahon
When Donegal ran out 1-13 to 1-10 winners over Tyrone in last year’s Ulster tie in Ballybofey, one of the subplots in the battle of attrition was Justin McMahon’s steadfastness in sticking like glue to Murphy, regardless of where the ball was. The Donegal captain kept his cool to see his team home and if the evidence of Donegal’s semi-final replay win over Monaghan is anything to go on, Rory Gallagher will let Murphy drag McMahon in and out of the danger area, something he did to Vinny Corey in Cavan.
Frank McGlynn v Peter Harte
Frank McGlynn, pictured below, is the Donegal player whose form has improved year on year since the All-Ireland win on 2012 and he has stepped into the role occupied by Karl Lacey as the most effective link between forward and attack. When Monaghan tried to block the channels and snuff out the threat of Ryan and Eoin McHugh, it was the likes of McGlynn and Anthony Thompson who came as auxiliary runners. Comfortable on the ball, McGlynn, too, has the ability to man-mark and will need his wits about him against possibly Tyrone’s best player, Peter Harte. Against Cavan, six shots from the rampant Harte yielded 2-4 and his style is the epitome of the current Tyrone team.
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