BY CHRIS MCNULTY
NEIL Gallagher and David Walsh are considered ‘doubtful’ by Jim McGuinness for Donegal’s opening National Football League game of the year away to Laois on Sunday (O’Moore Park, Portlaoise throw-in 2pm).
The duo had only just returned from injuries during the McKenna Cup campaign.
Gallagher returned from a knee injury to feature against Armagh and Queen’s, with Walsh getting back from a hernia complaint.
The experienced pair have suffered minor hamstring strains in training this weekend and, while neither has been ruled out of action for the trip to Portlaoise, the Donegal manager says both will be assessed later in the week.
“We’ll see how they develop over the week, but they are both doubts at this stage,” McGuinness told the Donegal News last night.
Donegal will definitely be without defender Eamon McGee, as the Gaoth Dobhair man serves a suspension for the opening two games of the League following his red card in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo.
Frank McGlynn has resumed training having had a minor hamstring complaint and the Glenfin man will play on Sunday, but McGuinness confirmed that Paddy McGrath is not yet ready for combat, the Ardara corner-back continuing his rehabilitation from a groin injury.
“It’s a wee bit early for Paddy to get back operating at that level,” he said.
There is, however, a possibility that Patrick McBrearty could feature at some stage. The Kilcar man had been laid down with a groin injury, but played for the county under-21s in a challenge game with Galway last weekend and is nearing 100 per cent fitness again.
McGuinness said: “Patrick is still doing the rehab work and isn’t far away. He’ll be there or thereabouts. He’s doing his work at the side of the pitch at the moment and we’ll let the medical people decide.”
Sunday will see students like Mark and Ryan McHugh, Martin McElhinney and Anthony Thompson return to the panel again, while McGuinness said the recent return to fitness of both Karl Lacey and Christy Toye has given his squad significant shots in the arm.
He said: “When players like that come back into your set-up it gives everyone a boost
“For us now it is about progressing the lads and moving them forward in the right direction.”
The McKenna Cups bright new faces in Odhrán MacNiallais and Darach O’Connor could also be thrust into the League’s spotlight at the weekend. McGuinness said: “Darach and Odhrán are pushing very hard to be included. They worked very hard in the McKenna Cup and it’s great to see them coming in and doing well.”
Laois are under the orders of a new manager in the shape of former Westmeath manager Tomas O Flatharta for 2014. The O’Moore County have doubts surrounding the availability of experienced trio Ross Munnelly, Kevin Meaney and Colm Begley for the opening game against Donegal.
“I’m not sure if they’re going to be ready for the first round being honest about it,” O Flatharta said.
“They have had some serious injuries. Kevin has a back injury and the other two lads between knees and shoulder injuries and groin injuries it’s going to be tough to see them in the first round I would say.”