BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL open their National League campaign on Saturday night with Rory Gallagher’s starting XV not expected to deviate too much from the tried and trusted when they take on Derry (Sean MacCumhaill Park, throw-in 7pm).
New manager Rory Gallagher is without the retired Rory Kavanagh, the unavailable Leo McLoone and also Dermot Molloy, who this week stepped off the panel, but Saturday’s team is unlikely to contain too many surprises or new faces.
Eoin McHugh will be missing because of a virus and the Kilcar man had been a likely feature were he fit to play.
Karl Lacey came through an in-house training game in Donegal town last Saturday and is expected to feature.
“It’ll be very much the seasoned campaigners that will be playing for us,” Gallagher said this week.
All-Stars Paul Durcan, Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy should all play, as should the 2014 GAA Young Player of the Year, Ryan McHugh.
On Wednesday night, McHugh played in treacherous conditions as IT Sligo defeated Queen’s in the Sigerson Cup. Older brother Mark also played and is in line to play in Ballybofey on Saturday having been cleared of an injury scare earlier in the week.
The returned McHugh, who quit the panel after last year’s National League campaign, sustained an injury in the in-house game, but an x-ray confirmed no damage other than a swollen wrist.
Odhrán MacNiallais remains a doubt, having only trained by himself on Monday night, but could still be involved while Darach O’Connor ‘is very much available for selection again’.
Donegal trained in Ballyshannon on Wednesday night, having to relocate from Castlefin because of the bad weather.
The Donegal team is likey to be confirmed on Friday afternoon, something that is expected to become a routine before games in 2015.