Preview: Rory Gallagher must forget about McManus and worry about his supply when Monaghan face Donegal

For the fourth time in four years, Monaghan and Donegal face each other in the Ulster championship

Both Monaghan and Donegal are aiming to book their place in the Ulster final for the fourth time in as many years when they face off in Breffni Park at seven o'clock on Saturday evening.

Monaghan hold the edge over their Northern neighbors having won two of the last three championships games against Donegal and Rory Gallagher will be aiming to rectify a one point defeat last year at the hands of their rivals on Saturday.

One of the main talking points coming into the game is the two-game suspension handed down to Neil McGee in Donegal's full-back line and while his absence will be rued, focus must switch to who will replace him and mark arguably the single best forward in today's game - Conor McManus.

The Clontibret man has caused Donegal headaches in the past, scoring six points in last years Ulster final, which was over 50 percent of his side's scoring; that was with McGee, Donegal's most ferocious man-marker, keeping tabs on him.

One of the key battles that will play out in Breffni Park on Saturday evening will be Rory Gallagher versus Conor McManus' main foils. Similar to any top class forward, he is only as good as the ball that comes in and while killing space around him might work, killing the ball coming in will work even better.

When it comes down to the crunch, man-marking Conor McManus is a fantastical idea that turns into an exercise in damage limitation before you know what's happening. What Gallagher must prevent is the incisive and troublesome runs made by the likes of Rory Mone, Kieran Hughes et al. 

To be fair, Malachy O'Rourke has a similar task down the other end of the field with the talismanic propensity of Michael Murphy, who is likely to be marked by Vinny Corry at full-back. What's become poignant is that most of the talk has been centered on Monaghan and McManus with Donegal taking a back seat in terms of coverage of the game and that might suit Gallagher's men down to the ground. Underdogs? That's a tag they won an All-Ireland title with and might settle into it a lot more comfortably.

The experience of winning two Ulster titles in the last three years will stand to Monaghan but the hurt experienced by Donegal that is surely still lingering after falling to Monaghan by a point last year might just be enough to see them grab the bit by the teeth and wrestle their Ulster crown back from the Farney County.