Doherty shuffles Donegal pack

DONEGAL boss John Joe Doherty has wielded the axe for his side’s NFL Division 1 game against Mayo on Saturday.

After their disappointing opening day defeat against Kerry, Doherty has rung the changes by making five alterations to his starting 15. Michael Boyle replaces Paul Durcan in goals, while Declan Walsh and Neil McGee come into the full-back line at the expense of Raymond Sweeney and Charles Byrne. Michael Doherty and Michael Murphy have earned starts in the full-forward line with attacker Kevin McMenamin and midfielder Brendan Boyle both losing out. Boyle’s omission results in Ciaran Bonner being relocated to midfield to partner Neil Gallagher. Colm McFadden, Kevin Cassidy and Barry Dunnion remain on the injured list.

Meanwhile Steven McDonnell could be in contention for the Armagh starting line-up for their Division 2 clash against Laois on Saturday night. The Killeavy attacker missed Armagh’s emphatic opening victory against Wexford because of injury but is now said to be nearing full fitness.

Wing-back JP Donnelly remains a doubt after he sustained a head gash and concussion during the win over Wexford. Long-serving defender Enda McNulty has returned to training with the squad but he is unlikely to feature in Saturday’s game.

Laois manager Sean Dempsey is set to delay announcing his team for that game until tomorrow night as he gives Billy Sheehan (knee) and Rory Stapleton (ankle) battle to prove their fitness. Both players are likely to start if they shake off their injuries. If Stapleton misses out, then Mark Timmons and Cathal Ryan are likely to strongly contest the vacant defensive position.

Limerick football boss Mickey Ned O’Sullivan will have to plan without his three dual players for this weekend’s NFL action as they will be involved with Justin McCarthy’s Limerick hurling squad.

This weekend is the first real test of the arrangement that was brokered between O’Sullivan and McCarthy regarding the use of dual players, Stephen Lucey, Mark O’Riordan and Stephen Walsh.

The Limerick footballers face Roscommon in the NFL Division 3 on Saturday afternoon while their hurling counterparts travel to Nowlan Park on Sunday for a NHL Division 1 meeting with All-Ireland champions Kilkenny. O’Sullivan has revealed that the dual trio will not be starting for the footballers in Saturday’s game.

“The decision is that we will not be starting them. We will have them on the bench with us, but we would prefer not to be using them. That will really depend on how the game materialises. We have to be realistic about this thing, two top-class games in the space of 24 hours is just not possible for an inter-county player.”

Stephen Lucey was the only dual player to start in Limerick’s opening day league defeat to Louth, while Mark O’Riordan was introduced as a substitute. Last Sunday in Limerick’s NHL loss to Clare, both Lucey and Stephen Walsh were amongst the starting 15. O’Sullivan has declared himself satisfied with how the dual player arrangement has panned out so far. “To date the players have given full commitment to both panels. They are combining both panels and it seems to be working well. We are going to give them every opportunity to prove themselves.”

The Galway-Kilkenny National Hurling League Division One clash postponed last week due to bad weather will now be played on March 8. The game is one of a number of refixtures arising out of cancellations due to poor weather recently, while other games down for decision this weekend have changed venues.

The format for the Waterford SH championship has also been announced Waterford will run its championships on a league style system, with two groupings of six ensuring at least five games for each club.

The top four sides from each group will qualify for the knockout quarter-finals and the bottom two in each group will battle it out to determine who drops to intermediate grade.

See Digest, Page 34, for draws

Donegal (SF v Mayo): M. Boyle; Declan Walsh, N. McGee, P. McDaid; F. McGlynn, B. Monaghan, E. McGee; N. Gallagher, C. Bonner; R. Kavanagh, C. Dunne, David Walsh; M. Doherty, S. Griffin, M. Murphy.

Dublin (SF v Galway): S. Cluxton; P. Andrews, D. Bastick, A. Hubbard; B. Cullen, G. Brennan, B. Cahill; C. Whelan, P. Flynn; D. Henry, T. Diamond, J. Brogan; C. Keaney, J. Sherlock, B. Brogan.

Wexford (SH v Laois): D. Flynn, B. O’Leary, R. Kehoe, A. O’Connell, M. Jacob, D. O’Connor, C. Kenny, C. Farrell, D. Redmond, S. Doyle, E. Quigley, D. Lyng, R. Jacob,S. Banville, N. Kirwan.

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