BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL will name an unchanged team for the first time in the 2012 Championship this Sunday – as the county’s search for Sam finally reaches its climax.
All-Ireland final Sunday will once again have Dún na nGall as one of its headline acts and Jim McGuinness is set to give a vote of confidence to the fifteen who started the semi-final win over Cork.
Ryan Bradley was withdrawn after 29 minutes of the semi, but the Buncrana man will get the nod to start Sunday’s final against Mayo (Croke Park, 3.30pm).
Martin McElhinney and David Walsh have been pushing hard for inclusion of late, but McGuinness has opted to put the faith in Bradley.
Donegal have no injury worries, with the likes of Karl Lacey, Rory Kavanagh and Neil Gallagher all fighting fit again having had minor ailments over the last four weeks.
“We are very fortunate in that we are selecting from a fully fit squad,” Donegal assistant manager Rory Gallagher told the Donegal News yesterday.
“A couple of players had minor strains, but they have all been integrated fully back into our training again and they’re all good to go for the weekend, thank God.”
While Donegal’s injury checklist shows no red marks, Mayo go into the game without talisman and captain Andy Moran, who was carried off during their quarter-final win over Down. Wing-back Colm Boyle, too, seems set to miss out on a starting berth, as he struggles to shake off the effects of a virus that has tortured him in the last three weeks.
Chris Barrett and Richie Feeney are the men battling for the vacancy, while there remain concerns over the fitness of Lee Keegan, who had to be withdrawn during Mayo’s semi-final win over Dublin after suffering a dislocated finger.
Both squads spent some time in a training camp last week. Despite insisting that his team would ‘do our normal stuff and train at our normal times in our normal places’, Mayo boss James Horan took his men for a training camp in Limerick.
Donegal had four days away between Carton House in Maynooth and Johnstown House in Enfield. “The few days away were great for the lads,” Gallagher said.
“We trained a few times collectively, did some video work, but the lads also had a good bit of craic: we had a quiz night; some of the lads went to a cinema; and we headed off to a comedy act one of the nights.”
The Donegal squad will stick to their tried and trusted routine for the weekend, leaving the Abbey Hotel in Donegal town tomorrow morning, Saturday.
“This sounds a bit borning, but just because it’s the All-Ireland final we won’t be doing any more in-depth detail of analysis on Mayo,” Gallagher said. “It will be the same as the first game we played against Cavan. We are focussed on preparing ourselves and getting a performance out of our own team.”
BY CHRIS MCNULTY