There was a timely boost for Donegal a fortnight before the start of the Allianz National League with the return to action of Patrick McBrearty.
The Kilcar star made his return with the Co. U-21s in a challenge game on Saturday, playing for most of the encounter against Galway.
The return took place at the Connacht Centre of Excellence grounds at Ballyhaunis as Donegal took on the Tribesmen in a contest that ended all square after four periods of 20 minutes.
McBrearty was part of a strong Donegal U-21 panel which travelled for the challenge game, the only notable absentee being Buncrana’s young startlet Darach O’Connor.
That was a bit ironic as O’Connor has been filling in at corner forward in the absence of McBrearty and has done particularly well.
McBrearty had minor surgery on a groin problem just before Christmas and suffered an initial minor setback in his recovery, but is now fit to resume and fight for his place. Prior to his surgery McBrearty was showing some of his best ever form for the Kilcar U-21s on their run to the county title. The news of his return will also boost Kilcar as they begin their Ulster U-21 championship campaign. They are due to play Erne Gaels, Belleek, on Saturday next, but it is believed that the Fermanagh side have withdrawn from the competition so Kilcar will go through to the quarter-finals where they will meet Clonoe of Tyrone on Sunday, 9th February. That clash could create a problem fixture as Donegal are due to travel to play Galway in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, on the same day (round two of the league). Both McBrearty and Ryan McHugh may be wanted by Jim McGuinness for the game.
With just two weeks to go to the opening Allianz National League game away to Laois in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, the omens are beginning to look good for Donegal with key players returning to training to leave Jim McGuinness with almost a full strength hand to play with.