BY CHRIS MCNULTY
PADDY McGrath could return to the Donegal squad for Sunday-week’s League clash with Armagh, with Jim McGuinness finally able to exude positive vibes on the fitness of the Ardara corner-back.
Dogged by a groin injury, McGrath has not played since last August, but McGuinness has expressed the hope that the 25-year old is now nearing a position where he can be reinstated into the match-day panel.
McGrath will not be available for this weekend’s game against Louth at Fr Tierney Park, Ballyshannon (Sunday, throw-in 3pm), but the manager has not ruled out the teak-tough defender being given a place next weekend at the Athletic Grounds.
“Paddy is making good progress and it is just taking it session-by-session with him,” McGuinness told the Donegal News, having initially hoped earlier in the season that he’d have him for the St Patrick’s weekend game in Down.
Although an imminent return seems ambitious, the fact that McGuinness is even suggesting the possibility will give encouragement to the player.
McGuinness said: “He’s had three or four sessions on the bounce now and hasn’t had a reaction. This is the first time that we’ve been able to move Paddy through the gears. Thankfully he has come through without any adverse reaction and he’ll train with us again on Thursday night.
“It would be absolutely brilliant for Paddy himself – and the team, of course – if he could play any part of the Armagh game.
“He has been training away, doing the running and the weights. His conditioning isn’t bad, although it wouldn’t obviously be where he’d want it. But he’s getting there.”
McGuinness has delayed naming the Donegal team for Sunday’s meeting with Louth in Ballyshannon as he continues to monitor some niggles in his ranks.
Frank McGlynn (hamstring) and Neil Gallagher (groin) sat out training on Tuesday night, although McGuinness is hopeful of having both players for their meeting with the Wee County at Fr Tierney Park (throw-in 3pm).
McGlynn felt a twinge in his hamstring in the closing stages of Glenfin’s All-County League game at Dungloe on Sunday. While he missed Tuesday’s training, it is thought to have been a precautionary measure.
The same can be said for Gallagher, who picked up a groin injury during Glenswilly’s League win over Four Masters.
Dermot Molloy, meanwhile, was restricted to light training and did not feature for Naomh Conaill last weekend.
“Dermot rolled his ankle against Down and hasn’t been able to take a full part, but we’ll give him every chance for the Louth game,” McGuinness said.
Leon Thompson (groin) is another who was struggling for fitness this week, while Under-21 ace Darach O’Connor is inhibited by a hamstring complaint. Ahead of the Ulster Under-21 semi-final against Armagh on Wednesday, the Under-21 contingent are included in the squad for the Louth game and, with Molloy on the doubtful list, Patrick McBrearty could make his first League start of the year on Sunday.