Declan Bonner is planning without his star forward, Patrick McBrearty, ahead of the penultimate game in the Allianz National Football League this Sunday in St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones (2 p.m.)
There is also a huge doubt over the participation of Paul Brennan, while Martin O’Reilly has a chance of playing some part.
The Donegal manager has also revealed that Paddy McGrath is not far away, although Sunday may come a little too soon for the Ardara man. McGrath has had a couple of great jousts with Monaghan dangerman, Conor McManus, in recent years and it would have been a boost to Donegal to have him available for this weekend.
Meanwhile, the manager has also revealed that Neil McGee, who made a comeback in the league game against Kildare, picked up a slight niggle which has set him back, but he is also not far away.
But, by far and away the biggest loss for Sunday next is Kilcar forward, Patrick McBrearty. “He is a big, big loss. We are waiting on the results of a scan and we are keeping our fingers crossed,” said Bonner speaking to the Democrat today.
McBrearty’s injury has been the main talking point among supporters in the past week. “He is one of those players who is so important. We got a lot of scores from him,” said Bonner.
The manager was feeling a little frustrated with the amount of injuries. “It’s part and parcel of the game and at this time of year pitches are heavy. But most of them are not too serious.”
Bonner also confirmed that Jason McGee was going to concentrate on the U-20s to try and get over his injuries. “I had a chat with Jason and he is going to work with the U-20s to try and get a sustained run of games,” said Bonner. McGee made the breakthrough last year but picked up a serious injury in a league game against Cavan and even this year when he came on in Killarney against Kerry, he picked up another injury.
Sunday’s game against Monaghan is a must-win game and the manager agrees that Donegal have to improve, especially defensively. “Monaghan are looking for one point to be completely safe. We know we have to improve. We coughed up cheap ball in the final third and we were punished. If we do the same it will be a similar story against Monaghan. We have been working hard on changing our approach and it is a fine balance.
“But we did cause ourselves a lot of harm on Saturday last,” he said.
Bonner felt there was a lot still to play for and the mood within the squad was very positive. “We have to keep working and it would be nice to look forward to a showdown with Mayo on Sunday week,” said Bonner.
The picture will be clearer after this weekend’s games. Should Donegal lose and Mayo and Kerry win, then it will be out of Donegal’s hands (with Tyrone the only team left on four points). But Donegal will be hoping that Tyrone can do Donegal a favour and defeat Mayo in Castlebar on Sunday. That would set up the showdown which Declan Bonner is hoping for in MacCumhaill Park on Sunday week, 24th March in a winner-takes-all contest.