BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL assistant manager Rory Gallagher has expressed confidence that David Walsh will be able to take his place in the starting line-up for Sunday’s Ulster final against Down (St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 2pm).
The Naomh Brid, Ballintra man has been suffering from a ‘slight tightening of a hamstring’ picked up in training last week.
Manager Jim McGuinness is due to confirm his selected team tonight at a meeting of Club Tir Chonaill, in Letterkenny – and Walsh is expected to be named.
“We have a small concern over David because of a little tightness, but I expect him to be okay,” Gallagher said.
Tonight’s meeting in the Mount Errigal is to enable members of the fundraising wing of the county committee to get a breakdown of how their efforts have been going.
It has been common practice in some other counties for the manager to name his team at these types of functions – and tonight McGuinness will take on a new departure in Donegal by publicly naming the 15 he’ll send to battle.
With Walsh expected to be included, it is likely that the Donegal roster will post just one change from the team that beat Tyrone in a fascinating semi-final three weeks ago.
Neil Gallagher has been ruled out of contention due to an ankle ligament injury he picked up in the opening two minutes of Glenswilly’s All-County League game against Kilcar a fortnight ago. His absence leaves a huge void at centrefield.
Leo McLoone appears to be the most likely to get the nod. The Naomh Conaill man started the games against Cavan and Derry, but made way for the return of Rory Kavanagh in the semi-final. However, McLoone is now set to be reinstated, with a place in the forwards a likely sentry to enable Ryan Bradley take up residence at midfield alongside Kavanagh.
The fight is a straight one between McLoone and Martin McElhinney, who is a more ‘direct’ replacement. McLoone, though, has played quite a bit more football for Donegal in 2012 and seems a notch further up the pecking order.
Elsewhere, hamstring concerns over Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath, Michael Murphy and Ryan Bradley have well healed with the quartet going ‘full out over the last ten to twelve days’ according to assistant boss Gallagher.
The management will leave it until tomorrow, Saturday, before making a final call on whether or not to include Martin O’Reilly in the squad. The MacCumhaills forward has been undergoing intense treatment on a hamstring injury of his own, but Gallagher reported that he was ‘respoding very well’ and he seems very close to declaring his fitness.
“Aside from big Neil, they’re all okay really,” Gallagher said.
“We have only one injury from 30 so from that point of view it could be worse. Neil will be a big loss of course though.”
Opponents Down are without the suspended Conor Garvey, but Benny Coulter and Dan Gordon are back in the hunt for starting jersies.