Donegal hopeful of Murphy return next month but key midfielder a major concern for Ulster clash

Declan Bonner’s men lost out to Kerry yesterday at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Tough conditions in Killarney yesterday.
Tough conditions in Killarney yesterday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DONEGAL ARE HOPEFUL their talisman Michael Murphy will feature before the end of the league but midfielder Caolan McGonigle will miss the rest of the spring action and is a major concern before the Ulster championship opener against Armagh.

McGonigle broke a bone in his hand in the win over Kildare a fortnight ago and is now set for a spell on the sidelines.

Donegal suffered a first loss in this year’s league when taking on Kerry yesterday and are now just two months out from the provincial clash with Armagh on 24 April, as manager Declan Bonner delivered an injury update on his squad.

Donegal play Tyrone next Saturday night, Monaghan on 13 March, Dublin on 20 March and Armagh on 27 March. 

“Caolan McGonagle, he’s going to be out for the rest of the league,” said Bonner after the game in Killarney.

caolan-mcgonagle-and-paul-cribbin Caolan McGonagle in action for Donegal against Kildare recently. Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

“Caolan has been one of our mainstays in the middle of the park for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury against Kildare and it is more serious than we thought so he is going to be out for a period. Hopefully, we can get him back on time for championship.

“Michael Murphy, we’re just waiting to see and we are not going to be rushing him. Jamie Brennan is still a few weeks away. Michael (Langan) is struggling with an injury at the minute, we’ll just wait and see.

“This was Hugh McFadden’s first game in six months after he picked up that nasty injury. To get him back on the pitch was important. It was good to get Oisin Gallen his first taste of football this season. We got Oisin and Niall and Daire back on the pitch and they have played little or no football over the last couple of months.”

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declan-bonner-and-stephen-rochford-after-the-game Declan Bonner and Stephen Rochford after the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

From the start Donegal faced a testing afternoon with a powerful wind the dominant feature in Fitzgerald Stadium.

“Conditions were atrocious but we were quite happy with the start of 0-2 to 0-2 after 12 or 13 minutes,” said Bonner.

“It was a difficult one, with Kerry at 0-9 to 0-2 we felt at that stage that at seven points, with the breeze, you might’ve had a chance to get back into it.

“Disappointed with most of that second half performance. We didn’t [take the initiative] and got ball turned over and missed a number of opportunities. The goal was poor from our point of view. We had a goal opportunity late on with Ryan and Patrick but there was a lack of creativity..

“Kerry were the better side, no doubt about it. Look, we have six days now to prepare for Tyrone so that’s the next challenge. We have four more difficult games now in the league.
Our number one priority is to maintain Division 1 status and get ready for championship, which is going to be a very difficult tie against Amagh.

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Fintan O'Toole

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