Donegal boost for Tyrone clash as ‘Footballer of Year’ Lacey returns

Donegal have received a huge boost ahead of their Ulster championship opener against Tyrone with Karl Lacey returning to action over the weekend.

Donegal boost for Tyrone clash as ‘Footballer of Year’ Lacey returns

The Footballer of the Year had been sidelined since Four Masters’ county semi-final loss against Naomh Conaill of Glenties last October and then required hip surgery in December.

Lacey played for Jim McGuinness’s team in a behind closed doors challenge match against Galway in Sligo’s Markievicz Park on Friday and also lined out for his club in the All-County Football League Division One against Kilcar yesterday.

The All-Ireland champions defeated Galway by 1-21 to 2-9 with Lacey playing the full match from his centre-back berth. The 28-year-old has started every single championship match for Donegal since the 2004 All-Ireland qualifier against Fermanagh. Against Galway, McGuinness started 14 of the side that began the All-Ireland final win over Mayo last September with Mark McHugh the only absentee with a hamstring twinge. Neil Gallagher, Paddy McGrath, Neil and Eamon McGee all played after recent injuries.

McHugh’s younger brother Ryan took his place but the All Star returned to come on as a substitute for his club Kilcar against Malin on Saturday and also played against Lacey’s Four Masters yesterday in a 0-12 to 0-9 win in Towney.

Donegal’s county players are expected to feature for their clubs this coming weekend for the last time before taking on Tyrone. The weekend before the match McGuinness’s panel have pencilled in a training camp.

Donegal begin their quest for a third successive Ulster championship against Mickey Harte’s Tyrone on May 26 in Ballybofey.

Meanwhile Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin says he’s disappointed for the thousands of Red Hand supporters who will be forced to miss the big Ulster Championship clash with Donegal.

Ballybofey’s capacity of less than 18,000 will go nowhere near meeting demand for tickets for the blockbuster meeting of the All-Ireland champions and the beaten NFL finalists.

McLaughlin believes the Ulster Council has missed out on an opportunity to market the game to a wider audience by opting not to switch the May 26 tie to a larger venue.

“There would have been clubs which would have taken up the opportunity to bring bus-loads to that game. That for me was where we missed out, because we would have been able to market the game to a wider audience.

“There are people who want to get to the game that won’t get to the game, and that’s not good.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.