It is early days in the Donegal club football calendar and already one footballer is already consigned to a spectator role for the season ahead.
Glenswilly’s versatile scoring ace Gary ‘Copper’ McFadden, who is equally at home in the attack or at midfield, is the player in question.
A scan in a Dublin sports clinic on Tuesday confirmed what Gary already suspected, the cruciate in his right knee was torn and he was facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
“I’m out for a year at least. It will be spring next year all going well,” said Gary, still hobbling about on crutches from the injury he suffered just over a week ago.
“I’m going to have an operation but that will be a few weeks yet. I’m not ready to have the operation; it will take a few weeks for the swelling on the knee to go down and before I can have the operation.
“I’m probably looking at five to six weeks and then it is the long road to recovery and hopefully back playing this time next year all going well,” added Gary, who acknowledges he is on the wrong side of 30. He is 31 and will turn 32 in June.
It all happened so simply at a routine training session last Sunday morning week, a week before the start of the All-County Football League.
“There was no clash or contact with any other player or anything like that. There was no one near me when I went down.
“I was running on my own at the time and I was going fairly hard when I just stopped suddenly and jarred my knee and went down straight away.
“The pain was fierce and I knew the minute I went down I was in bother.”
Two weeks on Gary is still in pain and on pain killers. But it is easing somewhat and the knee is still swollen and until that swelling goes down and the pain goes it means for now Gary will have to sit and wait.
But he is hopeful he will be able to undergo the surgery by the end of next month at the latest.
Meanwhile, he was on the sideline on Sunday in Towney when Glenswilly took on Kilcar in their opening game of the new All-County Football League season, lending a hand to management.
And he was back in Pairc Naomh Columba on Tuesday night, again helping out with the training.
“I’m going to give Brendan (Walsh) and Thomas (McKinley) a hand out with the team and training. It will get me out of the house and something to do but it will also keep me involved with the team.”
Looking at the league overall, Gary feels it is going to be another competitive Division One. And when it comes to Division Two, he feels it is an even more competitive division with a handful of teams in with a chance of promotion.
“Going on last year, Gaoth Dobhair have to be the favourities for Division One and with Patrick McBrearty back, you cannot overlook Kilcar.
“Kilcar will be disappointed with the way last season went but with everyone back and playing they will have a big say in things this season. St Eunans have a lot of good young footballers coming through and have good strength in depth; they will be knocking about the top too.
“Naomh Conaill have been in and around the top in recent years too and will be in the running too.”
As for the remaining teams, Gary feels they will all be happy to survive and hold on to their top flight status.
Gary is expecting a battle royale for the two promotion places in what he feels is a fiercely competitive Division Two.
“You have Ardara, Dungloe, Glenfin, Termon, Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs in Division Two and they will all be targeting promotion.
“I feel the top two will come from those five. Before last weekend’s round of games Ardara were one of the teams I fancied. But they suffered a heavy defeat away to Termon last weekend.
“Dungloe are another team that have been up and down in recent seasons. Termon had that big win over Ardara last Sunday and they have a number of class forwards. Killybegs had a good win over Dungloe last weekend.
“Hugh McFadden scored 1-6 in that game and with Eoghan ‘Bán’ Gallagher and a crop of good young footballers coming through, Killybegs are definitely on the way back and if they can keep the players together they will be a top team again in the next few years.
“Glenfin have Frank McGlynn and a number of good young footballers. They won the Intermediate championship last year. They beat a fancied Aodh Ruadh in the final.
“Really it is any two from those five for promotion. But a lot depends on how the county goes and the availability of players.”
This weekend games - Sunday April 14
The McFadden verdict
Cloughaneelyv St Eunans
Verdict: St Eunans
Milford v Kilcar
MacCumhaills v Gaoth Dobhair
Verdict: Gaoth Dobhair
Naomh Conaill v Bundoran
Glenswilly v St Michaels
Killybegs v Aodh Ruadh
St Nauls v Dungloe
Ardara v Four Masters
Buncrana v Naomh Columba
Verdict: Naomh Columba
Glenfin v Termon