THROW-IN

SATURDAY 14 JULY
Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park, 7pm

ONLINE
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 6.30pm.

RADIO
Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 from will have live commentary from Pauric Lodge and Bernard Flynn.

TV
Joe Brolly, Lee Keegan and Tomás Ó Sé will be on hand with their analysis on The Saturday Game Live on RTÉ 2 from 6.30pm, with commentary from Ger Canning and Dessie Dolan. 

Highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game from 9.30pm on RTÉ2.

Much more to admire about Bonner's Donegal

It's a year since Donegal trundled out of Markievicz Park in Sligo after a drubbing by Galway in the qualifiers in what was Rory Gallagher's last stand as manager.

Fast forward to February just past and a league meeting between the Ulster side, now managed by Declan Bonner, and Dublin at Croke Park.

On a chilly night, Donegal pushed their hosts all the way, playing an attacking brand of football that was easy on the eye. Bonner's Donegal, with a few new faces on display, had signalled their intent. 

And while relegtion from the top flight was their lot in the spring, the alarm bells did not ring. 

The expectation was that they would get to an Ulster final and that Monaghan or Tyrone would be their likely opponents. Donegal kept their end of that bargain, the other pair didn't. Fermanagh, with Arlene Foster watching on were no match for their opponents in the decider, who with little fuss claimed their first provincial crown since 2014.

En route, Bonner's men notched up 100 points, and while 'minding the house' remains paramount in their game plan, they are as equally efficient in the scoring area.

A serious knee injury saw Paddy McBrearty limp out of the Ulster final and, as a result he will see no more action this year.

It's a huge blow for Donegal.

The Kilcar clubman has been in outstanding form in 2018, scoring freely, while proving to be a real handful for whoever has to mark him. His absence probably lessens Donegal by 10 to 15 percent.

That said, Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh, Leo McLoone and Odhrán Mac Niallais won't be found wanting as part of the older brigade. The influx of youth is well served by Michael Langan, Caolan Ward, Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Ciaran Thompson - all great leaders in their own right. There's a good balance. As things stand, you would have Donegal at number three in the country.

They may not have the depth of squad to stay with Dublin fror 70 plus minutes, but do look well placed to cope with the different challenges that Roscommon and Tyrone will throw up in the weeks to come.

More games, more chances that the Dubs will get stronger

And so after more league and provincial championship success, Dublin set out on their quest for four All-Irelands on the trot and a sixth success in eight seasons. 

And while some will say, though in somewhat hushed tones, that the Dubs have gone back slightly this year it would be foolish that any 'slippage' talk would make them vulnerable once they get to the semis.

They will make the last four and, unlike previous seasons should be properly road tested before a possible date with Kerry or Galway, or maybe Kildare and Monaghan (Group 1 could throw up many surprises) on the second weekend in August.

Dublin's victory over Laois in the Leinster decider was routine and while their radar was a bit off in the opening half, their shot execution was much better in the second period. 

Joe Brolly highlighted their "motivation" to take on all comers in the aftermath of their latest Croke Park success and their ability to tackle ferociously. However, the former Derry star feels Kerry are the side that are "coming" for them.

He told RTÉ Sport: "The Dubs play with great courage, ambition, pace and drive. They are so brave, they never stop. They do all the right things.

"But, I tell you, Kerry are coming for them. You look at Kerry's front six and Paddy Andrews or Niall Scully wouldn't get into their front six.

"Kerry have abandoned this hybrid system they were playing between sweepers, man-to-man and not being sure when to push on. They looked excellent last night. They might be a wee bit young for them at the moment, but I tell you they are coming for the Dubs."    

For now, Dublin will ready themselves for the hardest test they've had since claiming the league title on Easter Sunday. 

Previous championship clashes 

2016 Dublin 1-15 Donegal 1-10 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
2014 Donegal 3-14 Dublin 0-17 (All-Ireland semi-final)
2011 Dublin 0-8 Donegal 0-6 (All-Ireland semi-final)
2002 Dublin 1-14 Donegal 0-7 (All-Ireland quarter-final replay)
2002 Dublin 2-8 Donegal 0-14 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
1992 Donegal 0-18 Dublin 0-14 (All-Ireland final)

Did you know

Dublin have played 19 quarter-finals, winning 11, drawing three and losing five. Their last defeat at this stage was against Kerry in 2009.

Donegal have played 12 quarter-finals, winning four, drawing two and losing six and were the last county to beat the Dubs in the championship, winning by 3-14 to 0-16 in the 2014 All-Ireland semi.

Tomás Ó Sé's verdict

Speaking on Morning, he said: "A lot of people are talking about Patrick McBrearty being a huge loss. He is their top scorer. People say Donegal's chances are all but gone. I don't necessarily buy into it. They clocked up 2-20 against Cavan, 2-16 against Derry, 2-22 against Down and a huge score against Fermanagh as well.

"Yes, McBrearty is their top scorer and this will be the biggest test they face. But Donegal have serious quality all over the field. Is their defence as mean as it once was? that's the question I have. The Dubs will test it and they have faced no challenge yet in my opinion.

"Questions are being asked are the Dubs on the slide and are the forwards as slick as they were. They are still the benchmark and that's the bottom line. This will be their biggest test so far and I expect them to come through it. 

Weather

Saturday will be warm with temperatures in low to mid-twenties generally, but a little cooler near the Atlantic Seaboard with temperatures of 17 to 20 degrees. The best of the sunshine and temperatures will be in the east and southeast, with cloudy and misty conditions prevailing further west. Light to moderate southwesterly breezes. For more go to met.ie