Donegal are back in action searching for their first win of the season when they play Monaghan, in St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones, on Sunday, in Division 3 B of the Allianz National Hurling League. (Throw in 2.30 pm).
The game is a real four pointer for the two teams with both bidding for their first points of the campaign. Donegal have just played one game so far against Roscommon while Monaghan have two games under their belts.
Despite a late rally and two injury time goals from Lee Henderson and Enda McDermott, Donegal suffered a narrow two point defeat by Roscommon. Roscommon won the game 1-14 to 2-9 after out hurling and outplaying their hosts for most of the tie.
The two late goals apart, Donegal looked well off the pace against the Westerners.
While Niall Campbell was sharp from frees, Donegal were far from inspiring up front and manager Andrew Wallace will be looking for much improvement in this sector if they are to harbour any notion of picking up those precious two points.
“We did not play well against Roscommon and there is no getting away from that but the encouraging thing to come out of the game was that there was only two points between us at the finish. We have drawn a certain amount of confidence of running a team like Roscommon to two points without playing well.”
With the exception of Shane O’Connor, who was forced out of the Roscommon game with a groin injury, Donegal are expected to be along very much the same lines as the team that played last time out.
“We hope to have Shane back, but I won’t know until later in the week if Warren Scanlon will be fit enough. Warren was not available for the Roscommon game as he was away for the weekend. But he was also carrying an injury and did not train last Friday night, so I won’t know for sure what the story is with Warren until later in the week,” explained Wallace.
The manager is also unsure about the fitness of Sean McVeigh and Mickey McCann, who were only used as replacements against Roscommon as they were both on the injured list. And as is the case with Warren Scanlon, it may be later in the week before Wallace may be in a position to make a call on their fitness.
Otherwise, the side will be very much along the lines of that which started last time out. The manager did not wish to comment either on the availability again of Setanta’s Danny Cullen, other than to confirm that the player was not back in the panel and that he had been unsuccessful in his attempts to make contact with the player.
Cullen, who has been one of the county’s top hurlers in recent seasons, is back from his travels in Australia and has featured for his club in the Ulster Club League in recent weeks.
Cullen and his club colleague Kevin Campbell are not in the squad at present with Campbell not available.
Sunday’s game is Monaghan’s third outing in League and like Donegal they are chasing their first win after losing heavily to Fingal and Louth. They suffered an opening day 4-18 to 0-13 defeat by Fingal and they went down by a bigger margin to Louth 4-18 to 1-4.
“It’s a must win game for them or else they could find themselves in relegation bother. But equally, it is an important game for us too and a game if we were to win it would give us a lift and a boost and bring back the feel good factor again. There are also two valuable league points up for grabs too which would be very important in our bid to retain our status in the division.”
Monaghan were promoted from Division Four last year and will see Sunday’s game as a make or break encounter in their bid to retain their Division 3B status and to avoid making a swift return to hurling’s lower tier.