Karl Lacey for Ryan McHugh is the only change in the Donegal team for Sunday’s crunch Allianz National Football League clash with Down in Newry.
Former Footballer of the Year Lacey slots in at left corner back as Donegal manager rests McHugh ahead of next Wednesday night’s Cadbury’s Ulster U-21 championship meeting of Donegal and Fermanagh.
That game is in Ballybofey and McHugh is one of five of Maxi Curran’s U-21s in the senior squad. The others are Patrick McBrearty, who is the U-21 captain; Darach O’Connor, Hugh McFadden and Marty O’Reilly.
However, while not named in the starting line up, McHugh, along with McBrearty, O’Connor, McFadden and O’Reilly, are all named in the 26 man squad for the trip to Pairc Esler.
Buncrana teenager Darach O’Connor has a very busy weekend. He is also a member of the Colaisti Inis Eoghain Schools’ team that play St Eunan’s College, in the all Donegal McLarnon Cup final, in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh, on Monday.
Donegal are the only unbeaten team in Division Two, albeit they dropped a point in last Sunday’s 1-12 each draw with Meath, in Ballybofey.
In light of that setback, Jim McGuinness and his men will be anxious to find the winning formula once again and maintain their bid for promotion.
“It is a matter of picking ourselves up again after Meath and working on where we were weak against them and building on the positives from the that game,” said the Donegal boss.
“The good thing is that we are still top of the table and it is now about picking it up again and kicking on now against Down on Sunday and winning again and getting back to be where we want to be at the end of the league.
“Down are a good side and James McCartan will have them well prepared and up for the game. It is the type of game and challenge we want as we get ready for the drier days down the road.”
Down go into the game in second place in the league table, two behind Donegal and ahead of Armagh and Monaghan on score difference, who are also on five points.
The Mourne men, who drew with Monaghan in their opening game, followed up with wins over Armagh and Louth. They suffered their first defeat on Sunday last against Galway. Galway, who were pointless after three games, won that tie 1-12 to 0-8.
The game is the first meeting of the sides since last summer’s Ulster Championship semi-final in Kingspan Breffni Park. In that game James McCartan’s men pushed the then reigning champions all the way before Donegal finally emerged 0-12 to 0-9 victors.
The last league meeting between the two was in Ballybofey last season, won by Donegal 0-12 to 0-7 .