Leo McLoone . . . likely to miss game against Killybegs
Naomh Conaill manager Martin Regan has not given up hope on having Leo McLoone for Saturday night’s quarter final game with Killybegs in Ardara. (7.30 pm).
However, the Naomh Conaill boss does admit it is a long shot that the former county man will play any part against Killybegs.
McLoone spent the summer in the US playing with Donegal/New York in the New York championship.
And he was a central figure along with Gaoth Dobhair’s Odhran MacNiallais in Donegal’s run to the final.
The difficulty for the former county man is the New York decider is on this Sunday, just 24 hours after Naomh Conaill’s clash with Killybegs.
“Leo is back home and training with us for the last two weeks. But he is heading back out to New York for the final and at this stage we are not sure if we are going to have him or not,” said the Naomh Conaill boss.
“If he does stay, it is going to be pretty tight for him to make it back in time for the New York final.
“The New York final is on the next day, Sunday, and realistically it is highly unlikely that we will have him.”
Naomh Conaill were runners up to St Eunan’s in Group D with wins over Dungloe and Four Masters. They lost away to St Eunan’s and go into Saturday evening’s tie as the hot favourites.
Martin Regan accepts they are favourites but he insists that Naomh Conaill are not taking Killybegs for granted and respects the Fisherman for their championship pedigree.
“People were saying the same before we played Four Masters and we see what happened in that game; we scraped home by a point and were lucky to do so.
“Killybegs have a great championship pedigree. We saw a few years ago they didn’t win a game in the league and they went all the way to the final.
“We would be very foolish to think that it will be easy on Saturday night.
“It will be far from it and we are expecting a right tough test.”
Naomh Conaill have no injury concerns and
Martin Regan expects to have a fully fit squad for the clash with Fishermen.
Unfortunately, the same is not the case in Killybegs. Pauric Connaghan and Kevin Martin are planning without Michael Gallagher (collar bone) and Niall Carbery (achilles).
Yet despite this and their poor league run, assistant Kevin Martin is looking forward to the game.
“It’s a huge test for our young team but we hope they can play free of any pressure against a very strong Naomh Conaill,” said Kevin Martin.
“We know from previous championship experience league form goes out the window and we will be going all out to pull off a major upset against one of the favourites for the Dr Maguire Cup.”
Killybegs may have a great championship pedigree but so do Saturday evening’s opponents Naomh Conaill.
And that record is not only at senior level but at minor and U-21 and the current Naomh Conaill squad has a number of multiple championship winners at all grades.
Anthony Thompson, Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy, Marty Boyle and Leo McLoone - who is more than likely going to miss Saturday night’s game - are all All-Ireland winners.
Ciaran Thompson and Ethan O’Donnell are their only present day county seniors but they also he likes of Eoin Waide and Brendan McDyer in their lineup.
The Naomh Conaill squad is also made up of a host of players that have played county minor and U-21 including Kieran Gallagher, J D Boyle, John O’Malley, Seamus Corcoran and Ethan O’Donnell.
Hugh McFadden and Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher are the county men in the Killybegs lineup. Jack McSharry was a Donegal minor this year.
Killybegs are propping up the Division Two League table and with four games still to play they looked doomed to Division Three football next season.
VERDICT: Naomh Conaill