Donegal have a number of injury worries ahead of their opening Allianz National Football League game with Kildare on Saturday next in Croke Park (5.00 p.m.)
Apart from injuries, the Donegal management team will also be keeping their fingers crossed that no injuries are picked up by players playing in the Sigerson Cup tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday.
Jim McGuinness will have to plan without the injured Karl Lacey, David Walsh and Christy Toye and he is sweating over the fitness of Neil Gallagher, Mark McHugh and Paddy McGrath.
Donegal will know that they face a really tough challenge, especially given the way Kildare overcame Dublin in the final of the O’Byrne Cup at Parnell Park on Saturday night last. The Lilywhites claimed a notable scalp with an extra-time win over the Dubs in their own back yard. Tomás O’Connor was the star of the show in the 1-16 to 0-17 win with 35-year-old Johnny Doyle again proving a real leader for Kieran McGeeney’s men.
Donegal and Kildare last met in the All-Ireland quarter-final of 2011 when it took extra time and a memorable score from Kevin Cassidy to decide the issue.
“We will not know until Wednesday evening what the situation is, but the game may come a little too early for Neil Gallagher, who is making progress. It may be the same for Mark McHugh,” said Donegal assistant manager, Rory Gallagher, who was more hopeful that Paddy McGrath may be available.
“We also have a number of players playing Sigerson including Michael Murphy, Mark McHugh, Michael Boyle and Antoin McFadden and we will be keeping our fingers crossed that they come through unscathed,” said Gallagher.
The Donegal team have been training very much with Saturday evening’s game in mind. The following Saturday evening, they are at home to Down and the management will be hoping to get off to a good start in the league.
Saturday’s opening game is part of a double header in Croke Park as the Donegal-Kildare game will be followed at 7 p.m. by the meeting of Dublin and Cork.
Meanwhile, the Donegal U-21s continued their preparation for the Ulster championship clash with Tyrone with a challenge encounter against Galway in Tuam on Saturday.
They went down 0-7 to 0-5 in very difficult conditions, but it was good workout for Maxi Curran’s side. Only Marty O’Reilly of the Donegal senior side travelled. The team was: P Boyle; K McFadden, C Ward, C Parke; P Carr, G Gallagher, E McHugh; L Keaney, C Cannon; A Browne, C Gibbons, B Griffin; W Gillespie, L Kelly, J McGarvey. Subs., used were C McGlynn, A O’Gara, M Cannon and M O’Reilly.