All-Ireland Super 8s: Bonner hopeful over McGrath and McGee for vital Mayo game

Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath both missed Donegal's draw against Kerry
Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath are experienced campaigners for Donegal

Donegal boss Declan Bonner is hopeful Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee will be available for Saturday's crunch Super 8s contest against Mayo in Castlebar.

McGrath has missed Donegal's last two games against Meath and Kerry because of a groin issue with McGee ruled out of the Kingdom contest by injury.

Hugh McFadden and Jason McGee went off during the Kerry game following knocks.

"Bar Eoghan Ban [Gallagher], I'd be very hopeful that we'll have a full squad to play," said Bonner.

Influential wing-back Gallagher is ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking an ankle in training in the week of the Kerry game.

Barring a surprise Kerry loss against Meath, defeat for Donegal at McHale Park will mean a second successive failure to progress to the All-Ireland semi-finals from the Super 8s stage.

If both Kerry and Donegal lose this weekend, scoring difference will decide who joins Mayo in the semi-finals.

If Kerry and Donegal both win, scoring difference will decide who tops Group 1 and goes on to face the Group 2 runners-up - either Tyrone or Dublin - on Saturday week.

Declan Bonner and Stephen Rochford
Former Mayo boss Stephen Rochford (right) is part of Declan Bonner's management team

We underestimate Mayo at our peril - Bonner

With Mayo well beaten by Kerry the week before Donegal drew with the Kingdom at Croke Park, Bonner's side will go into Saturday's match as favourites but he insists the contest is a "50-50 game" and it's hard to disagree given the opposition's pedigree.

Time and time again over the last number of years, this Mayo side has been written off only for them to produce big performances so Bonner says Donegal face a huge task at McHale Park.

"It's going to be a real battle against a very experienced side which will need a performance for 70-plus minutes where the guys coming off the bench will play a key role.

"We know the task and the challenge ahead of us."

With former Mayo boss Stephen Rochford part of Bonner's back-room team, Donegal should not lack for knowledge on the opposition although the Na Rossa club-man played down this issue at a media briefing on Monday.

"Stephen is a professional guy and he is doing a great job for us but our primary task is focusing on ourselves and concentrating on getting our team's performance right."

Rochford managed Mayo to one-point All-Ireland Final defeats by Dublin in 2016 and 2017 when the Connacht county probably should have won both games.

Despite ultimately falling short on both those occasions, Mayo have been the only genuine challengers to Dublin at All-Ireland levels over the last four years so Bonner says Donegal will underestimate James Horan's side "at our peril".

Meath referee David Gough will take charge of Saturday evening's game.

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