McGuinness hopeful of a full deck for Antrim in the Ulster semi-final

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Jim McGuinness and his Donegal panel can now focus on a meeting with Antrim in the Ulster Championship semi-final on Sunday, July 22.

Jim McGuinness and his Donegal panel can now focus on a meeting with Antrim in the Ulster Championship semi-final on Sunday, July 22.

Donegal manager McGuinness was at Brewster Park in Enniskillen yesterday to see Antrim overcome Fermanagh on a 2-18 to 3-13 scoreline.

McGuinness is hopeful to have a full panel available for that last four clash on Sunday fortnight.

Rory Kavanagh, Karl Lacey, Patrick McBrearty and Neil McGee sat out training on Friday night at the Centre of Excellence in Convoy.

All four are expected to be fit for Antrim.

Kavanagh, who missed the 1-11 to 0-11 Ulster Championship quarter-final win over Derry at Celtic Park last Sunday week through suspension, sat out St Eunan’s 2-9 to 1-9 win against Masters on Saturday night in the All-County Football League Division One with a slight abductor muscle injury.

He is expected to line out for Maxi Curran’s team in this afternoon’s Division One fixture at Ardara.

Lacey, who had a minor complaint following a heel injury picked up against Derry, was also absent at O’Donnell Park on Saturday but might feature for his club today at Naomh Conaill, while McGee played no part in Gaoth Dobhair’s Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta campaign in Moycullen, Co Galway.

McBrearty did make the trip to Galway with his Kilcar side but was only used as a Maor Uisce and is not expected to feature in today’s final against Micheal Breathnachs.

“They’re minor injuries,” McGuinness said. “We’ll see what the physics say.

“Patrick McBrearty got a quad injury in the warm-up in Derry and will be out for a wee while but it won’t be an issue for the Ulster semi-final.

“Neil McGee has had bruising on his foot but will be okay as well.”

Neil Gallagher, who was rated by McGuinness as “touch and go” ahead of his 27-minute cameo at Celtic Park, showed no ill-effects of strained ankle ligaments on Friday.

Gallagher had a fine game in Glenties on Saturday as Glenswilly ran out 2-11 to 0-9 winners over Naomh Conaill.

Shay Given, the 125-times capped Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, was part of Donegal’s session on Friday having been invited to participate by McGuinness.

“It was a good experience for the boys to have him in and it’s something very positive for us,” McGuinness said. “Shay enjoyed it himself as well.

“The boys all know that he’s a great supporter of the team. It’s nice for him to experience what the boys do and also to see the effort and dedication they put in and what they’re giving to the county on a voluntary capacity.”

Pat Shovelin, the Donegal goalkeeping coach, was thankful to Given for attending.

“It’s a testament to him that he came here tonight. He put in a big shift in fairness to him,” Shovelin said.

“It’s great to have him here. It’s fantastic for them to see a Premier League star here in Convoy in support of them. It’s driving them on and it’s a good boost for their confidence.”

Given, who had been holidaying in the north-west, enjoyed taking part in Gaelic football for the first time since he played underage with Naomh Padraig in Lifford.

“It was tough - I don’t think I saved too many,” he said.

“I’m very rusty because I was about 15 the last time I played Gaelic football. The training is fantastic and it’s great to be a part of it.

“You would go far to see a fitter team in the Premier League. It’s hard to believe they’re amateur with the professionalism of the players and the staff.”

Meanwhile, Declan Bonnar’s Donegal minors will also play Antrim in the Ulster MFC semi-final after the Saffrons hammered Fermanagh 5-10 to 1-8 in Enniskillen yesterday.

Bonnar’s side overcame Derry 1-10 to 0-8 at Celtic Park in the quarter-final.

The venue for the respective semi-finals is expected to be announced early this week.