Donegal returned to training last night (Wednesday) after securing their top flight status with last Sunday’s win over Armagh with their focus on their Ulster Championship preliminary round clash with Cavan.
May 20th is now the big date pencilled in Jim McGuinness and his players’ minds as they begin preparations for the defence of their Ulster championship crown. And over the next five weeks they will train three times a week as well as play club games at weekends in the build up to the Kingspan Breffni Park showdown.
While the Donegal manager stated after Sunday’s win over the Orchard Co that he was, by and large, sticking with the squad of players he used through the Allianz National League, he is also believed to watching closely a number of players that have been showing good form in club football since the start of the All County leagues.
It is anticipated Four Masters Barry Dunnion, who has been training with the squad in recent weeks ,is expected to be drafted into the squad after being dogged with injuries over the last couple of season.
St. Eunan’s Ross Wherity, who has been showing good form in recent weeks, Naomh Conaill’s Leon Thompson and Gareth Concarr may also be getting a call from McGuinness because of their club form.
All of the above mentioned have been in the panel before with Dunnion having been first choice for a number of years before having groin problems and he has undergone a number of operations on the injury.
But the Four Masters man has undergone an intensive rehab programme over the past 12 months and a personal training programme and has been cleared to return.
Wherity played under John Joe Doherty before spending most of last year in Australia, playing Australian Rules with the Grovedale Football club while Concarr also had a number of outing the season before last before a serious leg injury put a damper on his county chances.
But he returned to action last season and has been in sparkling form for Ardara in both the Ulster Club League and the All County League in recent weeks.
While McGuinness’s focus will be on Cavan in the coming weeks he will also be anxious to get his injured players Michael Murphy, Christy Toye and the most recent additions to the treatment table Leo McLoone and Daniel McLaughlin back on the training field. McLoone suffered a heavy knock to the hip in last Sunday’s game with Armagh while McLaughlin picked up a quad injury on Monday in the St. Michael’s versus Kilcar club game in Towney.
Skipper Michael Murphy is the manager’s greatest concern and he and the rest of Donegal will be keeping their fingers crossed that the big Glenswilly men will receive good news when he visits his specialist at the Dublin Sports Clinic this Saturday.
It also appears there is some discontent in Cavan with news breaking last night that the county squad had called for a meeting with the management team following a poor Allianz League campaign.
Meanwhile, Donegal forward and one of the stars of last Sunday’s victory over Armagh in Ballybofey, Colm Anthony McFadden, had a double cause for celebration at the weekend. Hours after walking off MacCumahill Park and kicking five points in Donegal’s 0-13 to 0-10 win over the Orchard Co, Colm became a dad for the first time.
His wife Lavina gave birth to a bouncing baby girl on Monday morning shortly after 1 a.m. in Letterkenny General Hospital to round of a brilliant weekend for the St. Michael’s club man and celebration all round in the McFadden household.