SATURDAY 21 JULY

Throw-in 
Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon, 5pm

Online
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 4.30pm.

Radio
Live and exclusive national commentary on Saturday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1

TV
Live coverage on Sky Sports, with highlights of the game, along with all the weekend's action, on The Sunday Game, RTÉ 2, from 9.30pm.

Also live on GAAGO.

Past championship meeting
2008 Donegal 3-11 Roscommon 1-09 (Round 1 Qualifier)

Virtually no championship history between this pair, save for a low-profile early season qualifier in 2008 when both teams were at a low ebb. 

Donegal, however, weren't anywhere near as shambolic as the Rossies that year and won handily in Ballybofey.

Of course, that was the season when John Maughan resigned as Roscommon manager midway through the league, citing abuse from supporters. They never recovered after that.  

Resignation in Roscommon 

Kevin McStay has been making fatalistic noises about Roscommon's chances in 2018 since their mauling at the hands of Tyrone last Saturday. 

Straight after the game, he acknowledged that Tyrone's physicality and conditioning went well beyond what the Rossies were able to cope with.

Kevin McStay with Mickey Harte after the loss to Tyrone

Since then, he's implied that Roscommon might have to change their style of play, which was fine for going toe to toe in shootouts with middle ranked sides but not optimal when taking on the shrewd elite counties.

Given that Roscommon have conceded a combined 12 goals in their last three matches in Croke Park - one of which they won - you'd imagine any re-design will centre around their defensive structure. 

However, in the next breath, he said that they were going to be unable to alter their style over the next couple of weeks. A tacit admission, if ever there was one, that Roscommon will not be progressing beyond the Super 8s this year.

The daunting prospect of Dublin in Croke Park awaits on weekend 3, so no one is suggesting anything other than this is their only chance of registering points on the board in the round robin. Two points is the realistic maximum they can achieve and that would be unlikely to qualify them for the semi-finals even if their points difference wasn't already as dismal as it is. 

So it's clear they're playing for pride this weekend. McStay will be hoping for an Ireland at home to England with the Six Nations already out of reach performance. 

Dynamic Donegal unlikely to be discouraged 

Declan Bonner didn't seem cut up with grief after his team's four-point loss to Dublin last week.

The Ulster champions beat the bookmakers handicap last Saturday, which is as grand an achievement as most can expect to manage against Dublin these days. 

Hugh McFadden in possession against Dublin

Prior to Niall Scully's opening goal, there were some who dared to dream that this could be 2014 all over again. 

Once the Templeogue Synge Street forward slipped home his second goal shortly after half-time, neutrals slumped into their seats and resigned themselves to another turkey shoot. 

That Donegal staved off this eventuality indicates that Bonner;'s team are heading in the right direction. 

Their gung-ho style in 2018 has seen them showered with accolades, even as they lost game after game in the league. They hit a whopping total of 8-76 in four Ulster championship games (an aggregate score of 100 points) and Bonner became only the third manager to lead the county to a provincial title, after Brian McEniff and Jim McGuinness. 

This exuberant approach was reined in against Dublin and they were afterwards criticised for being too stand-offish and not aggressive enough in their pressing. Pundits have blamed their passivity for Dublin's mind-numbing bouts of sideways and backwards handpassing in the dying minutes of the game. 

Potent attacks   

Roscommon's defence may be their glaring weakness but their forward line are easily capable of running up big scores, such as the 4-15 in the Division 2 final against Cavan and their 2-22 against Armagh in Portlaoise. 

The Murtaghs are consistently free scoring and are amply supported by Cathal Cregg and Donie Smith. Enda Smith often functions as a linkman and likes to raid from deep, hitting two goals in a powerhouse of a performance against Armagh. 

However, Smith had a day to forget against Tyrone, shanking a horrible pass into Tyrone hands in the run-up to Niall Sludden's opening goal. 

Donegal's five-point loss the last day was respectable enough in the circumstances but one wonders what might have transpired had Paddy McBrearty - who was sensational in the league match against Dublin in February - been available. 

Michael Murphy tackling Jack McCaffrey during the Super 8s clash

Jamie Brennan picked up the slack in the inside line, kicking three points from play but also snatching at a decent goal chance early in the game. As usual, there was plenty of hand-wringing around Michael Murphy's deployment far out the pitch but he lobbed over a couple of scores from play and laid on more chances. 

Bonner can't be accused of being a defensive coach and yet even he feels he needs Murphy influencing the game in midfield rather than standing poised on the edge of the square. 

Can home advantage do anything for the Rossies?

As is the case with all the Super 8s games this weekend, the venue itself is a central character in the drama.

The minority who fancy Roscommon to nudge this are presumably banking on McStay's getting a boost from their home surroundings. 

In actual fact, Roscommon have a better record away from Hyde Park in 2018, winning all their league games on the road. 

They've lost two and drawn one of their five competitive games in the Hyde this year. The 'f' word (we mean 'fortress', people) isn't called for here. 

They failed to beat both Meath and Down at home in the league, losing to the latter, and they succumbed to Galway's second half surge in the Connacht final.

The provincial decider was their fifth straight championship defeat to Galway at the venue, a losing record which stretches back to 1990.   

Team news: 

Roscommon

McStay makes two changes to the side humbled in week 1. Experienced defender Seánie McDermott comes into the Roscommon full-back line in place of Niall Daly, while St Brigid's clubman Brian Stack joins the attack with Donie Smith making way.

In McDermott's long career, Roscommon have seen action in all four divisions of the National League and the corner back is reputed to be the only player to have lined out against every county in the country in competitive football (more research needed). 

Stack was the man who powered home the second goal in last year's stunning Connacht final success in Salthill. 

Donegal:

No team news yet. 

Weather

Saturday will be mostly dry with good sunny spells and just the odd shower but cloud will increase again from the west later with patchy light rain or drizzle by evening in the northwest. Top temperatures will be again around 16 to 22. For more go to met.ie.