BY CHRIS MCNULTY
RORY Kavanagh will captain Donegal for Sunday’s Ulster senior football championship preliminary round game against Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park (throw-in 3.30pm).
The St Eunan’s man makes his 100th Donegal appearance this weekend and, in the absence of regular captain Michael Murphy, the management have opted to let Kavanagh, who was county skipper in 2009, lead the team into battle.
The Ulster champions are without knee injury victim Murphy, while it has been confirmed that the game comes too soon for Gaoth Dobhair’s Eamon McGee who will miss out due to a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere, Donegal are expected to be at full-tilt, with injury worries over Neil Gallagher (Achilles) and Karl Lacey (hamstring) abating this week and both were said to have trained on Wednesday night, the final time Donegal will have done a collective session before tackling Cavan.
Donegal will stay overnight in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell tomorrow night, Saturday, in advance of the game, which sees them begin in the preliminary round once more.
Centurian Kavanagh will partner Gallagher at centrefield, while it is not anticipated that there will be any changes to what is now seen as Donegal’s first choice back seven: Goalkeeper Paul Durcan and defenders Frank McGlynn, Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath, Anthony Thompson, Leo McLoone and Karl Lacey.
It is in the front division where the management have been posted with something of a selection dilemma. Ryan Bradley, Mark McHugh, Colm McFadden and Patrick McBrearty are certain starters, with Martin McElhinney, David Walsh, Martin O’Reilly and Adrian Hanlon vying for the final two spots.
McElhinney could be seen as an option at full-forward with McFadden possibly coming out to the ‘40, while the powder may be kept dry on O’Reilly, leaving it a straight fight between Walsh and Hanlon for the one remaining berth, with the former appearing the likely man to edge it.
Manager Jim McGuinness seeks a place in the Promised Land again for his team – and has urged Kavanagh to ‘make it count’ on what is a huge milestone for the Letterkenny-based schoolteacher.
“I was speaking to him about it and was just saying that the key thing for him now is to make it count,” said McGuinness.
“He wants to remember it for all the right reasons, so hopefully he can do that.
“He has got him into good shape this winter and spring. He’s in fine fettle at the minute.”