Donegal focus on Monaghan and replay

Donegal focus on Monaghan and replay
Tom Comack @dgldemocrat

Donegal are keeping their heads down this week ahead of Saturday’s Ulster Senior Championship semi final replay with Monaghan in Kingspan Breffni Park. (Throw-in 7 pm).

The total focus this week for Rory Gallagher and his squad is on finishing the job they came agonisingly close to completing last weekend, only to be caught with two late Conor McManus frees.

Neither the manager nor any of the players are speaking to the media ahead of the game.

Meanwhile, Donegal have given up on having All-Star full-back, Neil McGee, for the game. McGee received a straight red card against Fermanagh and was subsequently hit with a two game ban. He missed last week’s drawn game and is now set to miss Saturday’s replay, but would be available for the Ulster final should Donegal advance.

The double All-Star lost a second appeal against the suspension in Croke Park on Monday night. The appeal was heard by the GAA’s Central Appeals Committee.

“That’s the end of it now,” Donegal GAA chairman, Sean Dunnion, told the Democrat yesterday.

“We have exhausted all of the GAA’s internal appeals process and we won’t be taking it any further,” insisted the chairman.

Donegal led the drawn game by two points with less than six minutes remaining but two massive long range points from Conor McManus from outside the ‘45’ tied up the game.

Christy Toye, set up by Eamonn McGee, looked as if he had settled it with a fisted point in the 74th minute, but in late drama, McManus levelled it once more.

McManus tied it up for the last time after a late tackle by Anthony Thompson on Karl McConnell in the middle of the field was penalised and the Monaghan sharpshooter was given the easy opportunity as the free was awarded where the ball landed on the 20m line.

Donegal chairman, Sean Dunnion, who also acts as the team liaison officer, has reported no major injury concerns after Saturday’s bruising encounter.

“As far as I know we have a clean bill of health. I have been busy on other issues but there were no major concerns at the recovery on Sunday,” the chairman told the Democrat.

Frank McGlynn was a slight concern with a hamstring but he played on Saturday night. He was replaced late on after taking a big hit in a collision with McManus in the first half.

Karl Lacey, who was also being monitored ahead of last weekend’s game with a calf strain, seemed to come through the game without any problem.

Barring any late knocks Rory Gallagher is expected to stick with last Saturday’s starting 15 for this weekend's showdown.

If the game ends level on Saturday evening, extra time will be played.

The chairman was quoted in the 'Irish News' this week on the controversy surrounding goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley. Dunnion said he would be 'disappointed' if any of the Donegal players indulged in simulation.

The winners will face either Tyrone or Cavan in the Ulster final while the losers are home to Longford the following Saturday night in the All Ireland Qualifiers. Tyrone and Cavan meet in the second semi-final replay on Sunday in Clones.