BY CHRIS MCNULTY
STEPHEN McBrearty is expected to play some part in Sunday’s Ulster Minor League quarter-final against Derry, the 18-year-old Kilcar man having recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
McBrearty, one of the brightest prospects in Donegal, sustained a tear of the cruciate in his left knee during an All-County League game between Kilcar and St Eunan’s last June. A scan at Santry’s Sports Surgery Clinic confirmed his worst fears, having only just returned at that stage from a six-month lay puff because of a cartilage injury sustained during Kilcar’s winning of the Donegal Minor Championship in 2012.
McBrearty played for Kilcar in Sunday’s League win over Gaoth Dobhair at Towney having made his return to competitive action the previous week in the game against St Eunan’s. He has also feature in challenge games for the county minors in recent weeks, but he has only had limited periods of action since getting the all clear and played no part in Donegal’s Minor League campaign.
“It’s great to have Stephen back and available to play,” Donegal minor manager Declan Bonner said.
“It would be a big, big ask for us to ask Stephen to play a full game. He’s likely to play some part, but we just haven’t finalised whether or not that’ll be from the start or off the bench. Stephen has worked really hard on his recover and deserves a lot of credit for that. He keeps himself in good shape and he’s had a frustrating time of it. He’ll be a good boost for us to have for the Championship.”
While Bonner is without two long-term patients – Conor Doherty underwent cartilage surgery in Galway last week and Cormac Callaghan has only just had a pleaser removed from a broken bone in his hand – the Donegal squad is, overall, in good health.
Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher (hamstring) and Jamie Brennan (groin) were regarded as slight concerns this week, but Bonner expects both to be passed fit ahead of Sunday’s game.
Elsewhere, Christian Bonner (tonsillitis), Cian Mulligan (knee), Colm Kelly (ankle) and Stephen McMenamin (hand) all shook off different complaints and are in the mix for the meeting with the Oak Leaf.
The Donegal manager said: “There’s nothing like the smell of the Championship to act like a cure. Where we had nine or ten lads injured lately, the treatment table has been vacated in the last week.”
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.