BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL captain Michael Murphy is OUT of the Donegal’s Ulster Championship opener against Cavan.
The preliminary round clash at Breffni Park on Sunday May 20th will come too soon for the Glenswilly man, Donegal assistant manager Rory Gallagher said yesterday.
Murphy sustained collateral ligament damage during Donegal’s National League defeat to Dublin in Croke Park in March and, while he didn’t require surgery, the full-forward appears to have lost his fitness race – and the aim now will be to get ready to face Derry in June, should Donegal manage to get over the line against Cavan.
“It won’t happen, no,” Gallagher said yesterday on the possibility of Murphy lining out against Cavan.
“It’s going to come too soon for him. That’s not a story I’m throwing out, he won’t make it in time.
“With Michael, it’s a slow process and he is just following his rehab programme.
“We won’t rush him at all. Everyone knows how good he is and how important he is to us, so we certainly won’t be bringing him back quicker than we should.
“It’s like the Gilmore’s groin injury that he had in that we’ll bring Michael back only when Michael is ready to get back – no sooner.”
Murphy is obviously central to Donegal’s plans, but last year they had to do without him for most of the Ulster quarter-final game against Cavan after he was harshly sent off in the first half.
The 2009 Young Player of the Year is expected now to concentrate on a return for a potential quarter-final on June 16th. There was better news elsewhere on the injury front for Donegal over the weekend. While Karl Lacey didn’t feature for Four Masters, the hamstring injury sustained playing for his club in Ardara last week doesn’t have him in jeopardy for the Cavan game.
“Karl isn’t far away and I’d expect him back in training by the end of the week,” said Gallagher. Neil Gallagher returned to the Glenswilly midfield for their two games in the All-County League at the weekend having sat out last week with an Achillies complaint. Gallagher has arguably been Donegal’s best player so far in 2012 and his return is another positive.
Declan Walsh (hamstring) is expected back in training by the end of the week, while it is likely to be the following week before Christy Toye (Achillies) can resume training.
The St Michael’s man has been sidelined now for a few weeks and the Donegal management will be keen to get him some game time in the inter-county challenge against Mayo in Swinford on Sunday May 6th.