Donegal manager Rory Gallagher is reporting good news on the injury front nine days out from their Ulster SFC semi-final against Tyrone in Clones.
After their 3-19 to 1-9 rout of Antrim last month, Donegal will now meet their old foes on Sunday-week at St Tiernach’s Park in what will be the sixth Championship meeting of the counties in seven years.
Captain Michael Murphy and full-back Neil McGee were quickly given the all-clear from knocks sustained while playing in an All-County League game 12 days ago.
Gallagher was in Celtic Park running the rule over Tyrone’s win against Derry when his phone bleeped with the messages about Murphy and McGee.
“Of course, there was an anxious wait,” Gallagher admitted.
“We are lucky that Cathal Ellis, one of our physios, only lives in Fintown and the game was in Glenswilly. He was able to call up and have a look at them quite quickly and he got a look at Michael Carroll, who also came off, too. It was like a mini-casualty in the Murphy house for a while but, thank God, they’re fine.
“There was a bit of alarm initially, but they’re back in full training again.”
With the exception of Michael Langan, all of Gallagher’s players are in training.
Langan picked up a knock playing for St Michael’s against Dungloe in the League but Gallagher hopes that the youngster – who was one of six Championship debutants in the win over Antrim – will return to training again this weekend.
Jamie Brennan is back in training having got a ‘bang on the shoulder’ and Paul Brennan, who missed the Antrim game because of a hand injury sustained at work, is also doing ball work again.
Eamonn Doherty is available having been suspended for the visit of Antrim while Kieran Gillespie also looks set to be in the hunt for a spot.
The Gaoth Dobhair man has been beset by hamstring problems this year but finally looks to have shaken them off.
Gallagher said: “He is fully fit again. We took a deliberate decision with Kieran to have his recovery as a long-term thing because he broke down a couple of times before. We basically got a pre-season and some conditioning into Kieran and he has rehabbed well.”
Patrick McBrearty scored 1-2 off the bench against Antrim and it is likely that the Kilcar man will return to spearhead the Donegal attack next weekend in Clones.
Gallagher said: “He is training really, really hard. He didn’t have a lot of heavy training around the end of the League, but he’s chomping at the bit again.”
Save for Ronan McNabb, who has an ankle injury, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will also have a full deck to shuffle as Justin McMahon and Cathal McCarron have declared their fitness.
Although McCarron marshalled Murphy in last year’s Ulster final, which Tyrone won, McMahon has been the regular man on Murphy in their recent jousts. Indeed, much of McMahon’s play in opposition to Murphy has involved the Omagh man spending the duration in the Donegal captain’s face and the tactic is again likely to be a feature this time should the two be in direct combat.
Donegal Sport Hub understands that experienced Meath official David Coldrick – who took charge of the Allianz League meeting of the counties in March – is set to get the nod to referee the Clones clash.
Donegal spent the June Bank Holiday weekend at the Lough Erne Resort just outside Enniskillen and Gallagher said: “The couple of days away has narrowed the focus.
“When we were in New York, we didn’t have the 15 under-21 players and it was all very action packed, with games, rounds of golf and fundraisers. This was a lot different. It was about focusing the minds and talking about ourselves. It is good to spend that time together.”Tags: