Fears that Dermot Molloy’s championship season were in jeopardy have been allayed by the Naomh Conaill forward although he does face a race against time to be fit for the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Molloy picked up a knee injury playing for his club in their U-21 championship preliminary round 0-16 to 2-8 extra-time win over St Eunan’s at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny on Tuesday night.
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, who is a clubmate of Molloy’s in Glenties, was immediately informed of the problem and the 20-year-old forward was on crutches on Wednesday morning as a precautionary measure. However, an MRI scan in Sligo on Thursday revealed there is no damage to cruciate or cartilage and the injury consists bruising on the knee and bone.
Molloy is currently undergoing between two and four daily hydrotherapy sessions in Letterkenny to speed up his recovery and it is hoped he will be able to train either over the weekend or early next week.
It had been feared Molloy, who has been primarily used as an impact sub in the championship thus far and scored an injury winning goal against Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final, would be absent for six to eight weeks but the player insists the lay-off should only be a fraction of that.
“I sustained an injury in a tackle near the end of the game and had a dead quad-muscle, which is on the inside of the knee,” he said. “There was heavy bruising and swelling and I was instructed by the county team doctors Kevin Moran and Charlie Gillespie to put ice on the knee and not to put pressure on it. That certainly helped.
“The MRI scan showed that the cruciate is intact and there’s just a lot of fluid and bruising at the minute, which is a relief in itself. I will be in and out of the hydrobaths over the coming days and hopefully I will be fully cleared in time to get a couple of sessions under my belt before the All-Ireland quarter-final. Fingers crossed but things don’t look to be as bad as people might’ve thought.”
The news on Molloy is certainly a relief to McGuinness, although the scare strengthens his point about county players in club action. Earlier this month the Donegal manager requested the senior championship and intermediate championship fixtures be rescheduled until after the Ulster final against Derry.
The county board claimed they were unable to accommodate those wishes due to an already cramped fixture calendar and as a consequence centre-back Leo McLoone received two broken bones in the face and required surgery following an aftermath brawl after his Naomh Conaill club were dethroned as county champions by Glenswilly. That same weekend, St Eunan’s duo Kevin Rafferty and Rory Kavanagh, the latter only as a substitute for 20 minutes, played for their club in the draw against Dungloe that saw them progress to the last eight. Rafferty aggravated a groin strain which saw him miss the 1-11 to 0-8 Ulster final win while fellow centre-fielder Kavanagh hobbled off after 32 minutes against Derry as his ankle injury failed to last the pace.
Donegal learn their All-Ireland quarter-final opponents this evening after the Galway v Waterford All-Ireland hurling quarter-final at 6pm sharp on The Sunday Game. They will join fellow provincial winners Dublin, Kerry and Mayo in one pot and the other will be made up of the respective qualifiers. Three of those last eight fixtures are expected to be played at Croke Park next weekend, while the winners of Tyrone and Armagh will face Roscommon in the last fourth round qualifier.
The winner of that particular trio will play one of the provincial champions at Croke Park the weekend after next, possibly as the undercard to the first of the All-Ireland hurling semi-finals. All fixtures will be confirmed on Monday by the CCCC.
The semi-finals are pre-determined and are: August 21: Mayo or the team who beats them v Kerry or the team who beat them; August 28 : Dublin or the team who beat them v Donegal or the team who defeats them.