BY CHRIS MCNULTY
ALTHOUGH Martin McElhinney is recuperating from a groin strain, the St Michael’s man is expected back in training by next weekend and is not, at the moment, considered a ‘doubt’ for next month’s Ulster SFC meeting with Tyrone.
McElhinney picked up the injury in training on Tuesday-week past and didn’t line out for St Michael’s in their All-County League win over Ardara on Sunday.
However, the Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher, is hopeful that McElhinney – who had an excellent National League campaign – will be available for the May 17th meeting with the Red Hands in Ballybofey. It is understood that the player, who performed well both at midfield and at centre-forward during the League, has resumed ‘light jogging’ this week and by next weekend could be back in full training.
Paddy McGrath sat out the Ardara-St Michael’s game because of a hamstring strain, but the corner-back’s injury is not said to be of concern to the Donegal medics.
Darach O’Connor remains in a fitness fight through a knee injury sustained in the recent Ulster Under-21 final defeat to Tyrone while a knee injury that is keeping Stephen Griffin out of action is said to be ‘nothing major’. Of them all, O’Connor is understood to be the more long-term, but hopes are that the diminutive Buncrana man will be able to take part in the training camp on the weekend prior to the Tyrone clash.
A full programme of All-County League games is pencilled in for this weekend and next weekend. For next weekend, the May Bank Holiday weekend, clubs who are in Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta action in Ardara will have League games on the Friday evening.
Six players have left the Donegal panel this week. Kevin McBrearty (Four Masters), Ryan Malley (Ardara) and Eunan Doherty (Naomh Conaill) have all returned to their clubs, as has the Glenswilly trio of Joe Gibbons, Eamonn Ward and Caolan Kelly.
Of the six, only Gibbons featured in the League, when he appeared as a sub in the final minute of the win over Cork in Ballyshannon. McBrearty, Malley, Doherty and Ward played in the McKenna Cup while persistent injury problems denied Kelly the chance of an appearance.
No new faces have been called up by Gallagher and it seems unlikely that the manager will do so now, given that the Championship is so close.
Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte oversaw his squad’s training on Tuesday night for the first time since undergoing a medical procedure at the beginning of April.
Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh is on crutches owing to a knee injury that has thrown his participation into question. The Donegal News understands that the influential Moy man has damaged cartilage, but Tyrone’s medical team and the player are believed to be in favour of delaying corrective surgery with Cavanagh instead set to play with the aid of pain-killing injections.
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.