Dublin v Donegal: McHugh fears Ulster champions facing Dubs at 'wrong time'

Michael Murphy is challenged by Dublin's Kevin McManamon and Michael Darragh Macauley in the 2016 All-Ireland quarter-final
Martin McHugh believes Michael Murphy may have to be used in a targetman role in Donegal's full-forward line
All-Ireland Football SFC Super 8s - Dublin v Donegal
Date: 14 July Venue: Croke Park Throw-in: 19:00 BST Coverage: Live on Radio Ulster 1341 MW and BBC Sport website

Martin McHugh fears Donegal will be facing All-Ireland Football champions Dublin at precisely the "wrong time" in Saturday's Super 8s opener.

Dublin strolled through the defence of their Leinster title unchallenged and McHugh thinks the Dubs will be keen to put down a marker at Croke Park.

"This is Dublin's first real test and they are really going to be ready for it," said the BBC Championship pundit.

McHugh also says Patrick McBrearty's loss is a "massive blow" for Donegal.

The BBC pundit's fellow Kilcar man will miss the remainder of the after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the Ulster final win over Fermanagh.

"People talk about the Michael Murphys, the Ryan McHughs, the Frank McGlynns, the Eoghan Ban Gallaghers and other players but the one player we couldn't really do without is Paddy McBrearty.

"In the modern game, it's very hard to play in the inside line but his physical power, his ability to score, his free-taking are all there and it takes two players to mark him which helps other players.

"It's an awful big blow for the county."

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McHugh says injured McBrearty 'the one Donegal player they can't do without'

Provincial championships' 'days numbered'

McHugh's believes McBrearty's absence may force Donegal boss Declan Bonner to consider employing Michael Murphy is more of a traditional targetman role in the full-forward line.

"Donegal will need to put a big man into the full-forward line. Will it be Michael Murphy or not? Time will tell."

McBrearty's absence is likely to put even more onus on McHugh's son Ryan to perform after his all-action man-of-the-match display in the Ulster decider.

"Ryan has an eye for goal and has an eye to create goal and from a family point of view, it would be great to see him doing well.

"But's it's very hard to see anything other than a Dublin victory and I'm not just saying that because I'm from Donegal and have a couple of sons involved.

"As long as, from their point of view, Donegal don't get well beaten. That would be my biggest fear for them because Dublin will have all guns blazing."

As the Super 8s format takings it opening bow this weekend, McHugh believes the days of the provincial championships are now numbered.

"In a couple of years time, you'll probably be looking at eight groups of four teams with the top 16 going forward to play for the Sam Maguire and the bottom 16 playing for he Paidi O Se Cup or something like that.

"I know the provincial councils don't want that but I just think that's the way it's going and the Super 8s is the start of that."

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