Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has made one change to his starting team for Sunday’s league clash with Meath in Ballybofey.
Gaoth Dobhair’s Eamon McGee replaces Karl Lacey, otherwise the line-up is the same as the one which began against Monaghan last Sunday in Donnell Park.
McGee will slot in at corner back alongside his All-Star brother Neil at full-back for what is his first start of the league campaign. He missed the opening two games against Laois and Galway due to a two match ban carried over from last year’s championship.
“It is a case of giving Eamon game time and resting Karl. He is on his way back from injury and a lengthy period on the sideline,” said McGuinness.
“Pitches are heavy at the moment and we have a heavy schedule of games coming up over the next five weeks. So it is a case of managing Karl’s recovery and return to full fitness and giving Eamon a game.
“We have decided not to start Karl this weekend but we plan to bring him on at some stage and manage his recovery that way.
“Patrick McBrearty is the only other injury concern we have. Patrick injured his quad playing for the U-21s against Galway on Sunday evening in Convoy. He is definitely out of the reckoning for Sunday.
“The news on David Walsh is good too. David was going well in training and we will see tomorrow night (Thursday) but I would hope that he might be in a position to come in for the last 15 minutes or so. Darach O’Connor was complaining of a tight hamstring after Sunday’s game but he should be fine for this weekend.”
McGuinness insisted it was a matter of continuing the way they are going and keep on winning and maintain a place at the top of the table.
“Its about giving the younger players a chance and also giving the senior players that are on their way back from injuries game time to reintegrate them back into the team and back to fitness.
“That is the plan from day one and thankfully it has worked well for us so far and the idea is to continue that and manage the situation.”
Donegal are facing into a hectic period of games with four games in the league in the space of five weeks and there is also the a first round game in the Ulster U-21 championship. And should Donegal win that first round game against Fermanagh which is on Wednesday night week, March 19th in Ballybofey and progress all the way to the provincial final they could, conceivably, be out three Wednesdays in-a-row.
Five of the Donegal senior squad - Patrick McBrearty, Marty, O’Reilly, Luke Keaney, Hugh McFadden and Darach O’Connor - are also members of Maxi Curran’s U-21 squad.
“It is about managing that situation too and making sure that the U-21s are given the best possible chance to do well and hopefully progress in the championship too.
“From this week, they will train once a week with the U-21 squad, and on a Thursday night with the seniors until they complete their championship run.”
Meath have won just one game from their three outings so far. The win came in their opening game against Galway, but they have since lost to Monaghan and Armagh.
Donegal: Paul Durcan; Eamon McGee, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn; Ryan McHugh, Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson; Rory Kavanagh, Martin McElhinney; Mark McHugh, Christy Toye, Odhran MacNiallais; Colm McFadden, Michael Murphy, Dermot Molloy.