Donegal's opener with Tyrone put on hold

Donegal's start to the new football season has been put on hold after their Dr McKenna Cup opener was called off on Saturday afternoon due to the current cold snap.

Donegal's start to the new football season has been put on hold after their Dr McKenna Cup opener was called off on Saturday afternoon due to the current cold snap.

The game which was due to be played in Healy Park, was called off after a pitch inspection of the Omagh ground by Ulster Council officials.

Heavy overnight frost and early morning snow made the ground unplayable and left provincial officials with no option but to call the game off.

The Donegal versus Tyrone tie was just one of six games in the Barrett Lighting Dr McKenna Cup competition postponed as the entire first round programme of games in the competition was wiped.

The games have been rescheduled for the weekend of January 22-23, with Donegal's first game now next Saturday night at home to Fermanagh in Ballybofey with the final the following weekend.

The decision to postpone the game however must have come as music to the ear of Donegal manager Jim McGuinness who due to a flu bug that has infected the squad and a number of niggly injuries was struggling to field a team.

The new Donegal boss who was confined to bed himself towards the end of the week with the bug had only 17 of his 26 man Dr McKenna Cup squad fit and available to him on Friday night.

Among those definitely out of the reckoning were former captain and midfielder Neil Gallagher along with new boys Kevin Mulhern and Daniel McLaughlin. All three were all lying low with the flu and were definitely out of the reckoning for inclusion against the Ulster champions.

While last year's skipper Kevin Cassidy, another who had been suffering with the flu only trained for the first time on Thursday night and was also a serious doubt.

Thomas McKinley, Christopher Murrin and Naomh Conaill pair Marty Boyle

and Johnny Bonner were also on the treatment table.

Team captain Michael Murphy and Antoin McFadden were also sidelined with concussion. The pair were involved in an accidental clash of heads on Friday week last in the U-21 quarter-final club and were hospitalised for a night in Letterenny. For medical reason they will not be free to play again until Friday next at the earliest.

With both Murphy and McFadden students at Dublin City University and DCU competing in the O'Byrne Cup in Leinster, it is highly unlikely that they will be available for the McKenna Cup campaign as the college has first option on the players.

McGuinness had added a number of players to his squad for the game including a number of players from the county U-21 squad.