Neil Gallagher has lost his battle to be fit in time for Donegal’s Ulster Championship opener with Fermanagh next Sunday in Ballybofey,.
After weeks of uncertainty over the All-Star midfielder’s fitness, Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher, has finally conceded that the big Glenswilly man will not feature in the quarter-final clash with the Erne County.
“Neil had a niggly injury in his back around mid-March time in the league and then he had a problem with Achilles, but the truth is there is a lot of wear and tear on his body,” said the Donegal boss.
“He is back running and has integrated back into the football in the last couple of weeks. But he got very limited game time in the league; we had hoped to ease him back in the course of the league.
“We started him against Roscommon. He had been feeling good at the time, but his back went into spasm in that game and we had to replace him at half-time.
“He has very little football played and the reality is that the game is going to come too soon for him.”
Otherwise, the Donegal boss has reported a clean bill of health which means that team captain Michael Murphy had recovered from an ankle injury and Paddy McGrath, who suffered concussion in a recent club game, have fully recovered.
Michael Murphy went over on his ankle in Glenswilly’s championship game against Ardara in the club championship in the middle of last month. But the injury is not as serious as was first thought and the team captain is back training again.
“Michael rested up and wore a boot for the first couple of days and thankfully it didn’t swell up too much and it was not as serious as feared.
“He is back training over the last ten days or so doing straight line running first and then he integrated back into the football and he is going well.”
Darach ‘Jigger’ O’Connor has also returned to training following cruciate surgery before Christmas and the expectation among the management is that the Buncrana man will be in next Sunday’s match day squad.
“The wee ‘Jigger’ is good to go. He is back training with us about five weeks and he got the all clear from Ray Moran in Dublin three and a half weeks ago.
“He has played a couple of club games. He is playing in our training matches. He is looking sharp.
“He has a good volume of training done and is lacking match practice, but he does look sharp and I expect him to be in the match day squad.”
Michael Boyle, the former number one goalkeeper choice but in more recent times understudy to Paul Durcan, is also back in training following cruciate surgery at the end last year too.
But the Termon netminder is a couple of weeks away from being back and challenging Peter Boyle and Mark Anthony McGinley for the number one shirt.
That means that Donegal will have a debutant in goals with McGinley slight favourite as he had the jersey for the last few league games ahead of the championship.