BY CHRIS MCNULTY
Michael Hegarty has made a return to the Donegal team to make a record 46th Championship appearance for the Tir Chonaill men in one of three changes made by Jim McGuinness for Sunday’s Ulster SFC Quarter Final against Cavan (Breffni Park, 3.30pm).
The veteran Kilcar man has been named at centre half-forward as Donegal go in search of a place in a semi final against Tyrone.
Hegarty, who has returned to the panel this year after sitting out in 2010, was limited to a substitute’s role in last month’s win over Antrim in Ballybofey.
Elsewhere, Kevin Rafferty is back in the starting XV as he lines out alongside Rory Kavanagh in an all-St Eunan’s midfield, with a rejig of the pack seeing Martin McElhinney move to the half-forward line.
Since the Antrim game, Adrian Hanlon has been removed from the squad, while Dermot Molloy drops to the bench for the trip to Breffni Park. McElhinney has impressed in the half-forward line in recent challenge games, scoring two goals last Thursday night in a 2-13 to 0-18 win over Mayo in Sligo.
In defence, a grade 1 hamstring tear means that Frank McGlynn sits out, so there is a first Ulster Championship start for Naomh Conaill’s Marty Boyle.
Captain Michael Murphy has been declared fit to start at full-forward, while Mark McHugh and Ryan Bradley have also shaken off knocks and are included.
Teenage sensation Patrick McBrearty has been kept in reserve, but it is expected that the seventeen-year old will get some game-time against Cavan.
The Breffni county have named eight debutants in their line-up, including five in defence. Cavan’s new-look back six, marshalled by experienced goalkeeper James Reilly, includes SFC debutants James McEnroe, Patrick Carroll, Dane O’Dowd, Niall Murray and Damien Reilly.
“Hopefully on Sunday when we play Cavan we can play with more freedom,” said Jim McGuinness.
DONEGAL: Paul Durcan; Karl Lacey, Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath; Marty Boyle, Anthony Thompson, Kevin Cassidy; Kevin Rafferty, Rory Kavanagh; Martin McElhinney, Michael Hegarty, Ryan Bradley; Mark McHugh, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden.
CAVAN: James Reilly; James McEnroe, Patrick Carroll, Dane O’Dowd; Niall Murray, John McCutcheon, Damien Reilly; Ray Cullivan, David Givney; Gearoid McKiernan, Micheal Lyng, Fergal Flanagan; Niall McDermott, Eugene Keating, Seanie Johnston.