Lacey to return for Mayo challenge

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness is hopeful that All-Star Karl Lacey will be able to play some part in Donegal’s challenge game with Mayo in Swinford on Sunday. (Throw-in 2.30 pm).

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness is hopeful that All-Star Karl Lacey will be able to play some part in Donegal’s challenge game with Mayo in Swinford on Sunday. (Throw-in 2.30 pm).

The game which is to mark the official opening of Swinford GAA club’s newly refurbished all-weather pitch which is dedicated to the late garda Robert McCallion, a member of the Mayo club.

It is Donegal’s last outing before their May 20 Ulster championship preliminary round meeting with Cavan in Kingspan Breffni Park. Four Masters defender Lacey, who has been sidelined for a number of weeks with a hamstring injury, returned to training last week.

“The good news is that Karl had no reaction after last week but we’ll see how he goes tonight and again on Friday night at training before we make a call on his fitness. Hopefully, he will be able to play some part because with Cavan just two weeks away we will be anxious for as many of those players that have been out through injury to get some game time,” said McGuinness, who attended the Ulster Championship launch in Belfast on Tuesday.

One man that will not feature on Sunday and is now in a race with time to be ready for the Cavan game is Christy Toye. The St Michael’s player underwent surgery on an Achilles injury last year is now struggling with an Achilles injury on the other leg.

Like Lacey, Toye returned to training last week but suffered something of a reaction and did not even feature among the subs in Dunfanaghy on Sunday last. as his side ran out 1-9 to 0-4 winers over the Donegal Town outfit

“Christy felt a bit sore last week after training but he is going to give it another try this week and again it will be a case of how he goes,” McGuinness added. “And while it is not looking good for him it is a little to early yet to say whether or not he will be ready for Cavan.”

The Donegal manager’s injury woes does not end with Toye. Neil Gallagher is also receiving treatment on an Achilles injury, while both Eamon McGee and Barry Dunnion suffered hamstring strains playing for their clubs last Sunday and are now extremely doubtful for Sunday fortnight in Cavan.

McGuinness hopes to use Sunday’s game as a good work-out as they go into the final straight of their preparations before heading to Kingspan Breffni Park.

“Mayo will be a good challenge,” McGuinness said. “I know they did not win last Sunday but they still had a good league and they will want to put that behind them now and get into championship mode.

“We are also delighted to have been invited to play the game due the connection with Robbie McCallion. I met him once and he was a fine young man and we are delighted to be associated with the day and the opening of the facility in his memory.”

McGuinness has brought in a number of players from outside the squad in recent weeks for in-house games. But he also told the Democrat that other than Dunnion, he has made no additions though he has not ruled out the possibility of doing so in the next week or so. McGuinness plans to train Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday before winding down on the week of the game with possibly just one training session on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, new Cavan manager Terry Hyland has shook things up in the Breffni County by making a number of changes to the Cavan squad. Hyland, who replaced Val Andrews last month, has recalled John McCutcheon and added U-21s Jason McLoughlin, Jack Brady, Killian Clarke, Feargal Flanagan and Kevin Tierney. But speaking at Tuesday Ulster championship the Cavan boss said that he had not spoken to wantaway star Seamie Johnston.