Paddy McGrath is Donegal’s latest injury scare as they prepare for this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Dublin in Croke Park.
The Ardara man tweaked a hamstring in training on Thursday night, and was on the treatment table over the weekend in a bid to shake off the injury that threatens his participation in Sunday’s clash with the mighty Dubs.
McGrath has been ever present in all of Donegal’s five championship games to date though he did make way for Eamonn McGee in the course of the All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Kildare.
He joins Michael Hegarty (knee injury suffered in the extra-time victory over the Lilywhites) on the injured list. While Hegarty played a full club game the weekend before last, he had a reaction to the injury and has been very restricted in training since, though Donegal manager Jim McGuinness is hoping to have his experienced attacker for the clash with the Dubs.
In the case of McGrath, it is a case of resting and assessing the injury before making a final call on his fitness later in the week.
Donegal prepared for Sunday’s shootout with the Leinster champions and many people’s fancy for outright All-Ireland glory at the Redcastle Hotel and Spa overnighting on Saturday night, training on both Saturday and Sunday. They also had a bonding session kayaking on Lough Swilly.
McGuinness will put his side through their paces again tonight (Tuesday) and Thursday night before heading to Dublin on Saturday afternoon, where they will overnight at their usual Ashbourne base.
The Donegal boss is not expected to name his team until later in the week with much of the speculation centring on whether he will opt to include Eamon McGee and Christy Toye, who bothmade such an impact on their in troduction against Kildare.
McGee is believed to be in the running for McGrath’s berth at corner back alongside his brother Neil while St. Michael’s man Toye is being talked about as a contender for one of the six places up front.
However, with Toye just back from injury and McGuinness hinting last week that the players on the road back from injury might not have the fitness levels to see them through a full game, he may be held in reserve.
“We have players who are back training with us for maybe five or six weeks and are fit but they’re not at the intensity level where they can play against Dublin. Maybe they can play ten or 15 minutes but they’re not in a position to take to that field and play for 70 minutes, to go toe-to-toe with the Dublin players – it’s not going to happen because they would be swallowed up,” said the Donegal boss.
Naomh Conaill’s Leo McLoone, who has returned to training in recent weeks, is another that fits in the above category and despite reports of going well in training he may have to be happy with a place on the bench.
His Naomh Conaill clubmate Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy, who has showed up well any time he has been introduced, is thought also to be in the running for a starting place.
But Molloy may be the victim of his performances when coming on in recent games and may be once again held in reserve and used as an impact sub.
Dublin, who turned on the style against Tyrone in their quarter-final, have no major injury concerns and manager Pat Gilroy is expected to stick with the 15 who started against the O’Neill County.