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Donegal's Karl Lacey declares fitness for clash with Tyrone on Sunday

Updated: Tuesday, 21 May 2013 20:08 | Comments

Karl Lacey is hoping to be involved in Sunday's mouth-watering meeting with Tyrone
Karl Lacey is hoping to be involved in Sunday's mouth-watering meeting with Tyrone

Karl Lacey has declared his fitness for Sunday’s Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final with Tyrone in Ballybofey.

Lacey has made a return to training this month after a hip injury kept him out of the Allianz League campaign.

The 2012 Footballer of the Year is hoping to play a part in the blockbuster encounter as the champions meet a rejuvenated Tyrone.

Lacey told RTÉ Sport: "Things have been going well for me in the last four weeks. I'm available for selection. It is up to Jim and Rory to decide from looking at the sideline if I'm fit enough for Sunday and up to the sharpness with the rest of the lads.

"I've been training hard and it is feeling good. We have one more session on Wednesday night and if that goes well, hopefully I'll get the nod for some game time on Sunday.

"Jim has given us a game plan to do, we have been working on our fitness and it is up to us as players to execute that to the best of our ability. If we do that, hopefully it will be good enough."

Donegal were relegated from the top tier of the league this winter and come into the Championship with more attention as holders of the Sam Maguire.

It is a new challenge for Jim McGuinness’ team to cope with the increased pressure, Lacey believes it is one label they will pay little attention to.

He said: "It is great to have the All-Ireland champion tag on us but it is a totally new year and we're approaching it as if it was any other year. There is no difference.

"To be playing Tyrone, who are definitely the in-form team along with Dublin, in our home patch in front of a full house, it doesn't get much better than that. It is up to us now.

“We have trained hard since January. It will be disappointing if we don't execute everything we have been working on. Tyrone are flying at the minute and it is up to us to stop that momentum.

"There has been a lot of talk about us being relegated this year. I think when you look back on it, last year we were in the relegation places as well and we overcame Armagh on the last day of the league. Dublin drew with us this year with the last kick of the ball this year and that put us down.

"That was very disappointing but there was far too much gone into it. Our main focus wasn't on the league. But we didn't want to get relegated either and it is up to us to put it right and go into Championship now with a positive attitude."

Doubt has been cast over Donegal’s ability to maintain the same focus, discipline and organised approach after McGuinness secured a position with Celtic soccer club’s backroom team and also having already tasted elusive All-Ireland success.

Lacey argues that the feeling in the camp is even better compared to the start of last summer:

"The focus is superb, every man's head is down and everybody is training hard. Everybody wants to get to that level again where we were at last year.

"We're not thinking ahead of Sunday. Tyrone is a big on for us.

"Two years ago we stopped Tyrone doing three in a row, we're going three in a row this year so they are probably thinking the same. They want to stop us.

"That is the challenge ahead of us and one we are looking forward to. We are not thinking ahead of Tyrone but there is a third Ulster title there if we are successful. Beating Tyrone on Sunday is our focus."

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