‘Jigger’ expected to be fit for Tyrone despite scan on injured knee

NEWS

 March 15, 2017
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While Darach O’Connor is to get a scan on a knee injury sustained at the weekend, Donegal believe the Buncrana man will be available to face Tyrone on Saturday night.

By Chris McNulty, Donegal Sport Hub

O’Connor was withdrawn by Buncrana during Sunday’s Division 2 clash with Malin at The Scarvey having picked up a knee injury.

The diminutive forward is just back in the county colours after a long lay-off, having sustained a cruciate injury in 2015.

O’Connor started in the win over Cavan at Breffni Park – his first start in a Donegal shirt since the 2014 All-Ireland final – and Rory Gallagher is confident that he’ll be ready to face top-of-the-table Tyrone on Saturday night in Ballybofey.

The management have confirmed that O’Connor has been sent for a scan, but it seems to have been a precautionary measure, with the word positive on the forward.

Patrick McBrearty is in line to spearhead the Donegal attack having shaken off an injury and Martin McElhinney could also feature having played for St Michael’s on Sunday.

Tyrone will arrive at Sean MacCumhaill Park looking to set down a marker and Gallagher is relishing an acid test for his new-look Donegal – who are all-but safe in the top flight with five points.

“The reality is that we’ve played two of the perceived sides people thought that would struggle, sides that just came up (Roscommon and Cavan) – The next three games will give us a very clear indication,” Gallagher said.

“The next three outings (Tyrone, Monaghan and Mayo) are sides gearing towards championship and have that bit more training under their belts.

“We know we’ll have big challenges with those games. But we also will have a better idea where we’re heading coming into summer.”

From the squad he had last summer, when Donegal lost to Tyrone in the Ulster final, Gallagher has seen nine of them leave over the last few months.

‘Transition’ feels like a swear word to Gallagher – who sought, and got an extension to his tenure with the rebuilding job in mind – and his players.

So far, the spring has been full of promise ahead of a key month.

Gallagher said: “We’re very pleased. We’d think the signs in training are very good. We see them competing.

“We see the likes of Jamie Brennan being marked by Paddy McGrath. We see Caolan Ward making Paddy McBrearty; we can see those lads competing at that level.

“You can see the effort and commitment that is there.

“They’ve adjusted to the level required for county football. Some of them have been there a while. Some aren’t long in the door. That’s pleasing.

“But they have to do it consistently and they’ve got to do it when things aren’t going their way. That’s the road that is in front of them.

“They need to experience that habit of winning games at this level. Whether that’s getting over the line like Roscommon, winning comfortably against Cavan or clawing back to grab a point against Dublin; that all helps their development.

“Last year Eoghan Ban Gallagher played a couple of games but didn’t win them. Kieran Gillespie was the exact same. Mark Anthony McGinley had come in as well. So yeah, it’s good this year they, and the new lads, are now experiencing that.

“When you’re starting out, those are the kind of things that will bring you on that little bit quicker. It’s certainly a positive. Starting off with a relatively new team, the positive displays and performances are exactly what you want.”