GAA QUALIFIER: DONEGAL V GALWAY

Donegal expected to be at full strength for Galway challenge on Saturday

Tom Comack

Reporter:

Tom Comack

Donegal expected to be at full strength for Galway challenge on Saturday

Cian Mulligan . . expected to be fit for Galway

Donegal have no major injury concerns ahead of Saturday evening’s All-Ireland Qualifier with Galway in Markievicz Park in Sligo. (Throw-in 7 pm)

Gaoth Dobhair’s Cian Mulligan, with a minor quad muscle injury, is Donegal manager Rory Gallagher only worry this week.

But the Donegal boss is fairly confident  the Gaoth Dobhair man will be fine and good by the time the weekend and Galway come around.

“Cian suffered a slight quad injury the Thursday night before the Longford game. But he was doing some light jogging on it at the weekend and I expect him to fully integrate with training this week,” Rory Gallagher told the Democrat.

“Unless he suffers a setback he should be fine by the weekend.

“Thankfully we have no other worries on the injury front and if we don’t pick up any knocks between now and Saturday we will have a full deck to select from.”

Mulligan had been named in the starting team for the first round meeting with Longford.

He also missed the second round game against Meath.

Donegal go into Saturday evening’s winners-takes-all tie on the back of two Qualifier wins.

They were less than convincing in their 0-12 to 0-6 win over lowly Longford in Ballybofey.

But there were more positive vibes following a narrow one point Qualifier victory over Meath in Navan.

Patrick McBrearty was in good form up front and Ryan McHugh, after a number of below par performances, seemed to rediscover his mojo in Pairc Tailteáin.

He scored the goal, a trademark McHugh goal, in the 1-15 to 1-14 win and seemed to be back playing with a smile on his face again.

Michael Murphy was colossal once again in the middle of the park in an overall solid Donegal performance. And Donegal followers left Pairc Tailteáin in a more upbeat mood than they did MacCumhaill Park a week earlier after the win over Longford.

Galway are looking forward to playing in Division One of the Allianz League next season after a good league campaign in Division Two of the Allianz League.

They won promotion and defeated Kildare to claim the  Division Two League title at the end of last season.

However, after defeating Mayo, they were completely outplayed by Roscommon in the Connacht final. Roscommon won the final in Salthill by nine points, 2-15 to 0-12.

The margin of the defeat more than the defeat itself is believed to have really rocked Galway and manager Kevin Walsh.

And Saturday’s game is now a big game and a pressure game for the Tribesmen as they bid to get their championship season back on course.

They also have the difficulty of hitting the ground running in a first round Qualifier against a team that have two Qualifier wins and momentum.

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher was in Pearse Stadium for the Connacht final.

And he insisted this week his and his team’s focus was concentrating on their own game.

However, he also insisted he was not reading too much into Galway’s Connacht final performance.

“It was one of those game. Roscommon got off to a good start playing with the wind and got the goal at  the right time and had a good lead built up at half-time.

“I thought they played well early in the second half and even for a while after Roscommon scored their second goal.

“We’re not judging them on that game. We’re judging them on the Division Two League final win over Kildare  and especially their second half performance in that game.

“I thought they played really well in the second half in the league final and they looked good against Mayo too.

“But look, we are concentrating on our own game and getting it right for the game.

“And hopefully we will get the result and be in the drum for the quarter-final draw on Monday morning.”