BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL are definitely without Mark McHugh and Anthony Thompson for this weekend’s National Football League clash against Cork (Saturday, 5pm, Pairc Ui Rinn), while midfielder Neil Gallagher is said to have only a 40 per cent chance of lining out against the Rebels.
McHugh failed a late fitness test on a calf injury prior to Sunday’s win over Kerry in Ballybofey. The Kilcar man has had to have a scan on the injury, which hasn’t cleared up and which will prevent him from playing against Conor Counihan’s side.
Thompson was a late withdrawal on Sunday after he picked up a hamstring injury in the warm-up that forced the management to handing Declan Walsh a last-minute call-up to the starting line-up.
Gallagher played 64 minutes against the Kingdom before being withdrawn. Jim McGuinness had said that he was replaced ‘with next week in mind’ but it now seems as if a hamstring problem will force the Glenswilly man to miss out this weekend.
Rory Gallagher, the Donegal assistant manager, told the Donegal News yesterday afternoon that the All-Star midfielder had only a ‘40/60 chance’ of featuring this weekend.
“Neil played last week, but this week he may not be able to go beause the hamstring is just niggling at him,” he said.
“It’s not serious, but it is niggling at him so he may just need to rest it.”
The player was to be given another fitness test last night, Thursday, but the management are not expected to have him in their plans for a clash with a county against whom he delivered a man of the match display in the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final.
With McHugh and Thompson out of the reckoning, Donegal’s defence will remain as is with Ryan McHugh and Declan Walsh holding their places, while Martin McElhinney is the front-runner to replace Gallagher.
Elsewhere, there are not expected to be any changes with Ryan Bradley having come through ‘some work’ on Wednesday night and Rory Gallagher has confirmed the Buncrana man to be fit.
Under 21s Patrick McBrearty and McHugh will feature, four days before they face Tyrone in the Ulster Under 21 Championship, while Martin O’Reilly also expected to be part of a reduced squad that Donegal head south with.
The Donegal County Board have chartered a flight from Carrickfinn to Cork tomorrow morning, returning immediately after the game and Gallagher says that there may only be 21 players in tomorrow’s panel.
Conor Counihan, the Cork manager, is not without injury issues of his own. Last Sunday, Ciaran Sheehan was forced off during their game against Tyrone with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the League.