Donegal boss Rory Gallagher admits he is “a lot more optimistic” on the injury front, as his side prepare to face Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final on Saturday.
Gallagher’s team overcame Galway 3-12 to 0-11 in the Round 4B qualifier at Croke Park on Saturday, with goals from Patrick McBrearty, Ryan McHugh and Christy Toye.
Karl Lacey, the 2012 Footballer of the Year and four-time All Star, sat out that contest with a knee injury sustained in Donegal’s 0-11 to 0-10 Ulster SFC final loss to Monaghan last month.
“With Karl, there is positive news; he did some light training yesterday and we are going to monitor it day by day. It is a race against time, but we would be a lot more optimistic than this time last week,” Gallagher said yesterday.
Defender Eamon McGee hobbled off at the interval on Saturday, having gone over on his ankle, to be replaced by Anthony Thompson. McGee suffered a similar injury earlier this summer, when Donegal overcame Armagh at the Athletic Grounds in June (2-11 to 0-8). “It is fairly good news,” Gallagher said of the Gaoth Dobhair defender. “Eamon rolled his ankle, but it has not swollen up. It is the same ankle he rolled against Armagh. He was back training then after seven to 10 days, but the fact that it has not swollen would suggest he will be back in a few days.”
Another player who has had a number of niggles this summer is Martin McElhinney. The St Michael’s clubman was introduced at half-time on Saturday with the scores level at 1-4 to 0-7 and he provided a base at midfield for Donegal’s 10-point victory.
“Martin just had accumulation of small things, his knee being the latest,” Gallagher said. “He got through the game, he felt good after it, he did not train during the week. He has not trained in fact since the Ulster final, but thankfully he is through it and we expect him to do a bit today.”
Sunday will see Donegal and Mayo’s fourth championship meeting. Donegal defeated the Connacht side on their way to winning their two All-Ireland titles — 0-13 to 0-9 in the 1992 semi-final and then 2-11 to 0-13 in the 2012 final. Mayo extracted some revenge when they hammered Jim McGuinness’s team 4-17 to 1-10 in 2013.
“We’ve developed a serious rivalry with Mayo,” Gallagher said. “There’s good tradition there and the supporters get on well. Mayo are an incredible team. Their players are great — great players and great leadership.”
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