McGuinness hopeful Lacey and Gallagher will be fit for Ulster final

Peter Campbell

Reporter:

Peter Campbell

McGuinness hopeful Lacey and Gallagher will be fit for Ulster final
Jim McGuinness is hopeful that both Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher will be fit to start the Ulster final on Sunday week.

Jim McGuinness is hopeful that both Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher will be fit to start the Ulster final on Sunday week.

Both sat out the semi-final win over Down with knee injuries but the Donegal manager has not ruled them out of the meeting with Monaghan in Clones.

“Everybody is good,” said McGuinness. “We’re hoping that they are all going to be available. Hopefully Karl and Neil might start. We don’t know. Karl did a good session on Tuesday night and played very well in what was a football session. Neil is a little behind that but is working well with the physios.

“This is a big week for us now. We have no club matches this weekend, so we have Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and then probably the following Tuesday,”

“This is an important period for us in terms of getting our preparations right and everything else that’s involved with the Ulster final right in the next five sessions; getting the message across and hopefully the lads will then be able to use it.”

McGuinness has been given a couple of weeks off from Celtic to prepare Donegal for the final and he thanked the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, for that.

“Neil knows what an Ulster Championship final means. He played the game and knows winning the cup is very important,” said McGuinness.

“In terms of the health of the squad, Anthony Thompson has moved forward; he got a bit of a knock at the weekend but we don’t think it’s major. Anthony has moved forward with his fitness; Mark McHugh has moved forward with his fitness and Frank McGlynn has moved forward. They were all under major pressure a month out from the Tyrone match and then they all broke down in the Tyrone match. Now they are coming real strongly.

“If we get Neil Gallagher and Karl Lacey back, we will be back at full strength. And I would say we are a lot further down the track than we were four or six weeks ago,” said McGuinness, who feels that the side can go out and play without any of the stars at the moment.

“It might have been (like that) a couple of years ago but I don’t think it’s like that. We didn’t have Michael Murphy last year for a few of the big games and the boys just got on with it.

“I don’t think our players, let’s say half an hour before the game, we said, listen Colm McFadden’s not good to go here today, I don’t think that’s a psychological blow any more. We have got to deal with that and someone else has to step up to the plate. We have done that in Colm’s absence. Everybody has to deal with injuries,” said McGuinness.

The Donegal manager feels Monaghan have a huge motivation: “Massive. I know myself we were in 2011. I know how ravenous we were to get over that line. Monaghan are bringing that to the table now. They will come with the attitude, ‘this is our day’. That is a big challenge for us. On top of that they have a lot of quality players.

“For me Conor McManus is one of the top five forwards in the country. He is top quality. For us to have any chance to win this game we have to match that,” said McGuinness, who feels his players are ready to do the Donegal jersey proud.