BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL Under-21 manager Maxi Curran has not given up hope on Darach O’Connor lining out in Wednesday-week’s Ulster Championship semi-final – but the Downings man admits that ‘it isn’t looking good’.
Eighteen-year old O’Connor missed out on last week’s 3-10 to 0-6 quarter-final win over Fermanagh in Ballybofey because of an acute hamstring strain.
O’Connor picked up the injury while playing for Colaistí Inis Eoghain against St Eunan’s College in the MacLarnon Cup final on St Patrick’s Day, having played the final eleven minutes of Donegal’s National League defeat to Down the previous afternoon.
Donegal are due to take on Antrim or Armagh, who meet in a replay this Wednesday having played out a thrilling extra-time draw last week, in the April 2 semi-final, but ace forward O’Connor is in a race against time.
“At the minute it looks like he’s not going to play in the semi-final,” Curran confirmed to the Donegal News.
“As it turns out, it looks like he’d be touch and go for the final if we’d happen to get there.”
O’Connor has been in much demand in recent weeks and months and Curran says the player is ’30-70, percentage-wise’ as regards his hopes of playing.
The Donegal Under-21 boss said: “He definitely won’t be fit to start. We’re told he has a chance to be togged. Having him for ten or fifteen minutes is the best we can hope for, but it looks like a long shot at this stage.”
Curran has not ruled out having the player listed on his roster, though he knows he’s fighting an uphill battle.
“Fingers cross, he’s mending day-by-day, but time is short,” he said.
“We’re hopeful that he might make the semi-final, but at the minute it isn’t looking good. He’s suffering from a very weakened hamstring. He just needs rest and to build up the strength of the hamstring.”
While goalkeeper Kevin McLoughlin – who picked up a minor groin injury in the warm-up to the Fermanagh game, defender Conor Parke missed St Eunan’s All-County League win over St Michael’s yesterday having suffered a torn tendon in a finger on Wednesday night.
“We’re hopeful that Conor will be ok for the semi-final,” Curran said.
“If he wasn’t a footballer he’d have needed it operated on and that would keep him out for three months. We’re told that he can play, but we have to be careful.”
CCC TO DISCUSS FIXTURES
Meanwhile, the Donegal Competitions Controls Committee (CCC) is set to discuss the 2014 senior and intermediate championship fixtures schedule. Clubs, at a county committee meeting on Wednesday night in Ballybofey, voted to reaffirm the decision taken at a fixtures forum in September to park the start of the Championships until Donegal’s involvement in the All-Ireland series has ended.
County officials have until next Monday, March 31, to submit their fixture plan to the Ulster Council for their approval.
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.