But the underdogs tag might just suit our lads as they go for glory at the home of GAA this afternoon.
In fact only for a sending off and a few missed chances – as well as a few unlucky breaks – Donegal could have and should have beaten Laois on their own patch a fortnight ago in the last of the league games.
And with Michael Murphy and Karl Lacey both expected to start, this might be a good time for Jim McGuinness to cut out and post cuttings from the weekend’s Dublin papers to give his side a boost.
If the Donegal boys are in the right mind by throw-in time, there’s every reason to believe they can go to Division One next year as Division Two champions.
Captain Murphy has been suffering from a dead leg since playing with his club, Glenswilly, last weekend, and he has now told manager Jim McGuinness he is fit to start.
Donegal already had an extended list of injury including Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath, Kevin Cassidy, Adrian Hanlon and Mark McHugh.
However we now understand Kary Lacey, Kevin Cassidy and Mark McHugh are also now fit enough to start. And Adrian Hanlon has recovered sufficiently to earn a place on the bench.
Laois have confirmed Colm Begley as team captain for Sunday’s game. The former Australia Rules player has rediscovered his best form this season, playing mostly at wing forward, and has started in every league to date.
Manager Justin McNulty has been rotating the team captaincy so far, with veteran midfielder Pauric Clancy wearing the armband when Laois beat Donegal in the last round just under two weeks ago.
And McNulty admits that beating Donegal last time out has given the Tir Chonaill lads another incentive for Sunday.
He said: “Donegal will be coming to Croke Park with a point to prove. They probably feel that they didn’t perform to the level that they’re capable of. They missed several good changes. The result probably could have gone the other way given a few breaks of the ball, literally.”
Donegal: P Durkan; P McGrath, N McGee, K Lacey; A Thompson, F McFlynn, K Cassidy; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; M Hegarty, M McHugh, D Molloy; R Bradley, M Murphy, C McFadden.
Laois: E Culliton; D Booth, K Meaney, M Timmons; D Strong, S Julian, P O’Leary; P Clancy, B Quigley; C Begley, J O’Loughlin, D Donoher; R Munnelly, B Sheehan, MJ Tierney.
Verdict: Donegal (by four points)