Donegal hurlers are back in action again on Sunday when they face Down, in Division 2B of the Allianz National Hurling League in O’Donnell Park. (throw-in 1.15 pm).
The game is a curtain raiser to the football league meeting of Donegal and Roscommon. Donegal suffered a heavy defeat away to Meath last weekend in Trim. The Royals had a 32 point winning margin at the final whistle as they ran out 2-35 to 0-9 winners.
The defeat was Donegal’s third on the spin. But it was much heavier than their narrow four point defeat away to Mayo in the first round and a nine point home defeat to Armagh in their second game.
After the relative highs of winning the Lory Meagher Cup and the Nicky Rackard Cup and promotion to Division 2B in the league for the first time, this is proving to be a tough season for Donegal and new manager Ardal McDermott.
Former long serving player, McDeremott, took on the baton from Ray Durack after Durack stepped down at the end of last season.
Donegal began their season without Nicky Rackard All-Star Jamsie Donnelly and Enda McDermott, one of the county leading forwards,and they have also lost a number of key personnel in in recent weeks.
And for last week’s trip to Meath, McDermott was without eight first choice players, more than half a team.
Danny Cullen, the team captain, has not featured since the Mayo game on the first day out while another of last year’s Nicky Rackard All-Stars Ronan McDermott, Christopher McDermott and Kevin Campbell were also on the treatment table last week.
The news on Danny Cullen, the county’s top hurler, was not good and he is ruled out for the rest of the league campaign and is in a race against time to be fit for the Nicky Rackard Cup.
Paddy Hannigan missed the Meath game after picking up a one match ban following his sending off against Armagh in the second round. And Justin Browne, one of the younger players who has broken into the team, missed last weekend due to work commitments.
Hannigan is expected to return for this Sunday’s encounter. Jamsie Donnelly has also returned to training in recent weeks and may see some action on Sunday.
Down, one of the favourites for promotion, won their opening two games against Armagh and Wicklow, but suffered a surprise home defeat to Mayo last Sunday. Mayo are unbeaten and top the Division 2B table.
Donegal and Wicklow are pointless with no wins from their three games and are already doomed to a relegation dogfight to hold on to their division 2B status unless they can turn their seasons around in their last two games.
Wicklow are away to Mayo in Castlebar, this Sunday and Donegal and Wicklow meet in Arklow, the following weekend, in the final game of the league series.