BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FORMER All-Stars Neil McGee and Neil Gallagher will make their first starts of 2014 on Wednesday night night when Donegal play host to Queen’s University at Sean MacCumhaill Park in their final group game of the Dr McKenna Cup (throw-in, 8pm).
The pair came on as substitutes during Sunday’s win over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds, which has kept alive Donegal’s hopes of making the semi-finals of the competition, although they would require a win by a big score margin, as well as results in other groups going their way.
McGee and Gallagher, All-Stars in 2012, will now be thrown in from the start against the Belfast-based students, captained by a Donegal panelist, Martin McElhinney of St Michael’s, and managed by a Donegal native, Ballyshannon’s Anthony McGrath, a former Donegal minor and under 21 player.
McGee has been troubled by a knee problem while Gallagher has just recovered from a groin injury.
“We have to balance game time with winning matches and injuries,” Jim McGuinness said following Sunday’s game.
“The medical people have done a really good job and we’ll keep taking their advice to move them forward.”
Christy Toye is in line to get some game time off the bench, while David Walsh is also expected to be given another run out having played the second half on Sunday.
Nine of the 2012 All-Ireland winning side will begin Wednesday night’s game, with young guns Odhrán MacNiallais and Darach O’Connor again given places in the starting XV.
McGuinness said: “They’re pushing very hard for game time. They’re both good footballers and we want people that will push; we want a healthy squad. Both can really add value to the squad. If they can push for a start or even some game time we would be delighted.”
It will be an all-Glenswilly midfield with Gary McFadden partnering Neil Gallagher, while Antoin McFadden is recalled to the half-forward line and Paul Durcan is back in goal.
DONEGAL (Dr McKenna Cup v Queen’s): Paul Durcan; Declan Walsh, Neil McGee, Eamon McGee; Frank McGlynn, Leo McLoone, Karl Lacey; Neil Gallagher, Gary McFadden; Antoin McFadden, Dermot Molloy; Odhrán MacNiallais; Colm McFadden, Michael Murphy, Darach’O’Connor.
Wednesday January 15th
Section A, 7.30pm
Tyrone v Armagh C Branagan
Section A, 8pm
Donegal v QUB B Rice
Section B, 7.30pm
Derry v St Mary’s I Molloy
Section B, 8pm
Fermanagh v Monaghan B Cassidy
Section C, 7.30pm
Down v Antrim S McNamee
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.