BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL GAA officials have expressed optimism that Donegal team captain Michael Murphy will be fit to lead the county into their May 20th Championship opener with Cavan at Breffni Park.
It follows confirmation that the Glenswilly man did NOT undergo corrective surgery on the knee injury that forced him out of last Saturday’s League defeat to Dublin at Croke Park.
Rather, the DCU student underwent an exploratory examination procedure under anaesthesia, under the care of surgeon Mr Ray Moran at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry on Tuesday.
It has been confirmed that Murphy has sustained collateral ligament damage, but Donegal fans will be relieved to learn that the talismatic forward does not require any reconstructive surgery on the injury.
Murphy has been put on an intensive four-to-six-week rehabilitation programme by the surgeon and medics are confident that he will be able to line out in the Breffni Park tussle, which takes place seven weeks from this Sunday.
“We are very optimistic that Michael will be available for that game against Cavan,” confirmed senior Donegal team doctor, Mr Kevin Moran.
“Thankfully he has not sustained any cruciate or cartilage damage, but he has sustained some damage to the collateral ligament, which stabilises the outside of the knee.
“We will manage the injury very carefully. He is going to miss the Armagh game next weekend, but we are hopeful that he’ll be alright for the Cavan game.”
Murphy was forced off eleven minutes from the end of Saturday’s game against Dublin
After a collision with a Dublin player, Murphy initially resisted Mr Moran’s seemingly frantic efforts to persuade him to leave the field, but after attempting to play on the player was unable to last and was replaced by Adrian Hanlon.
The ace attacker is on crutches and faces an intensive programme to get back to full fitness ahead of the start of Donegal’s defence of the Anglo Celt in Cavan.
However, he will definitely sit out the Easter Sunday game against Armagh in Ballybofey, which brings down the curtain on the National League campaign. And it’s a game Donegal have to win to avoid relegation, but with they face a huge task without their top scoring threat.
It’s the second time this year that Murphy has been at the centre of an injury scare. In January, he had to undergo a corrective procedure to cure a Gilmore’s Groin complaint.