Furthermore they have a more reliable dead ball operation and Neil Mc Gee back from suspension. There is also a keen rivalry – to put it at its most polite – between the counties, which strops the edge beyond simply Donegal’s grim determination to halt the rise of their opponents and Tyrone’s long-smouldering desire to reverse the fixture’s trend this decade.
Anyway, limited attacking options didn’t stop Harte winning the All-Ireland in 2008 and the scoring landslide that buried Cavan in the replay would set anyone a daunting target.
Donegal were much the superior team in the semi-finals against Monaghan but made a meal out of exploiting that advantage.
Better in the drawn match, Rory Gallagher’s team were also far more convincing than the one-point replay win might suggest.
Ulster SFC final Donegal v Tyrone, Clones, 2.0 [Live, RTÉ2 BBC2] This is the most eagerly awaited match of the provincial championships.
Tyrone’s continuing evolution and development of a highly effective and fast counterattacking (how incomprehensible that would have been to our forefathers) game has marked them out as potential challengers for the All-Ireland.
This weekend they come up against the side that has proved their nemesis in recent times and who also swooped for an All-Ireland in one of those years.As Tyrone have emphasised they never lost those matches by much but neither did Donegal’s grip relent.Now the consensus appears to be that the two counties represent lines on a graph that have crossed even though the league – usually a reliable indicator of championship prospects – placed Donegal in the top four and their opponents in the second tier.The biggest quibble with Tyrone’s status as favourites is that during this unbeaten season they have yet to meet top-flight opposition whereas Donegal have ploughed through a decent Fermanagh side and two epic battles with outgoing champions Monaghan.The closer the match gets however and the more the conviction wavers that Tyrone have a decisive edge.Donegal have always exerted pressure on them and also outlasted them.