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Nickey Rackard Cup Round one preview

Nickey Rackard Cup Round 1

Donegal v Mayo

Venue: Letterkenny

Thrown In: 2:30 pm

A clash of favourites opens the 2021 Nickey Rackard Cup campaign as 2020 finalists Donegal and Mayo meet in Letterkenny tomorrow with a 2.30 pm throw in.

Donegal captured their third Nickey Rackard crown against Mayo last year, and as the only sides operating in Division 2B of the national league they will both be odds on to meet in the final once again in 2021. The sides cannot meet again in any subsequent stage of the competition bar the final after tomorrow.

Both sides finished out of the promotion places in the league, with two wins and two losses apiece. Both scored wins over relegated Roscommon but Mayo will be looking to exact a measure of revenge on Saturday, as they were well beaten by Donegal in their respective league encounter. That was in no small part due to the contributions of Declan Coulter, the Division 3A top scorer accounting for 2-8 of Donegal’s 4-18 contribution on that afternoon.

Yet ‘league is league’ as the saying goes, and Mayo will be looking to turn in a much-improved performance tomorrow in better conditions. Two late Donegal goals separated the sides in last year’s Rackard Cup final, and Mayo will at the very least be out to plant a seed of doubt in Donegal minds, least they cede a third win on the bounce to the Ulstermen. Mayo have been buoyed by the return of Keith Higgins to the small ball code, the four-time football All Star captains the side and will add a touch of class to complement the attacking threat posed by the likes of Shane Boland, Cathal Freeman and Cory Skahill.

Donegal meanwhile can rely on the metronomic accuracy of Setanta clubman Coulter, and a supporting cast that contains the likes of Ciarán Mathewson, Richie Ryan and Ronan McDermott, who between them racked up a combined 5-14 in the league. Neither side will be short of firepower.

Both sides are averaging over 18 scores per game, but with Donegal’s greater propensity for hitting goals, not least against this Mayo side, who have conceded 7 goals to Donegal in their last two meetings and scored none in return, they should have enough for their most recent rivals.

Verdict: Donegal

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