Donegal’s defence of the Ulster championship was given a huge shot in the arm this week with the return of captain Michael Murphy to training.
Murphy was sidelined for the last two months with a knee ligament injury picked up playing against Dublin in the Allianz League at the end of March.
He returned to training on Tuesday night for his first full session in over nine weeks and all going well over the next two weeks, he looks set to face Derry in Ballybofey in what is a repeat of last year’s Ulster final.
Meanwhile, Rory Kavanagh, the man who wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Murphy against Cavan, was due to see the medics for the second time yesterday (Wednesday) on the ankle injury he suffered in a club league game on Sunday.
It is also expected that Kavanagh, who had an x-ray on the injury on Monday, may have a further scan on the injury later in the week.
“Michael received the all clear from the doctors last week and trained with the squad for the first time last night (Tuesday) and he came through the session without any problems. It is now a matter of slowly building up his fitness and sharpness again over the next couple of weeks,” manager McGuinness told the Democrat last night.
“It is a matter of easing him back in and resisting the temptation to push him too hard. His basic core fitness is good as he worked away on that in the gym while he was off. It is a case of easing him back in and not pushing too hard in fear of picking up hamstring or any other type of muscle injury on the hard ground.
“But overall he is in good shape and his return is very good news and a big boost and all going well he should be fit to take his place against Derry,” said McGuinness.
However, the situation regarding midfielder Kavanagh is a little less clear and it may be the weekend at the earliest before the full extent of the injury is known. The manager has admitted that the St. Eunan’s man may have a race on his hands to be ready for the June 16th showdown.
“Rory is due to meet the doctors again today (Wednesday) and we will know better after that but it could be later in the week when he has a scan on the ankle when the swelling goes down that we will know the full picture. The doctors are reluctant to say one way or another how bad it is until all the tests are carried out but the general feeling is that it may not be as serious as first thought on Sunday night.
“At this stage it looks as if he is in a race with the clock to be fit for Derry, but we will know better by the weekend.”
An x-ray on Monday revealed that no bones were broken but it may very well take the scan to reveal the full extent of Kavangh’s injury.
Neil Gallagher, Christy Toye and Eamonn McGee, who were all nursing injuries in recent weeks, returned to action last weekend with their clubs without any bother and are fully fit again.
McGuinness is also keeping his fingers crossed that his players involved in this weekend club games come through without picking up any knocks or serious injuries.
“Hopefully, we will pick up no more injuries at the weekend and that we get a clear run at it over the next two weeks in the run in to the Derry game.”
In all, up to half of the Donegal senior squad are involved with their clubs this weekend with Mark McHugh and Patrick McBrearty set to play for Kilcar against Malin, who will have Declan Walsh on board, in what is a crunch second leg game in the RTE Raidio Na Gaeltachta Senior Championship. Also on Saturday night Colm McFadden, Martin McEhinney, Christy Toye, Peter Witherow and Antoin McFadden will be in the St. Michael’s team that will go toe to toe with Paddy McGrath’s Ardara in a Division One League game.
David Walsh and Naomh Brid will host Marty O’Reilly and Sean MacCumhaill’s in Division Two of the league while Thomas McKinley will be at the heart of the Naomh Colmcille defence against Letterkenny Gaels a Division Four game.
And on top of that Neil, Eamonn and Peter McGee along with Stephen Griffin and Michael Boyle are all involved in the All-Ireland finals of Comortas Peil Na Gaeltachta which are being hosted by Gaoth Dobhair over the weekend.