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Fermanagh captain Donnelly set to return against Monaghan

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath is confident captain Eoin Donnelly will be fit for their Ulster SFC semi-final against Monaghan 

FERMANAGH manager Pete McGrath is optimistic that he may have a full-strength squad to select from for their Ulster SFC semi-final – including captain Eoin Donnelly.

The Coa clubman missed both the Division Three Final against Armagh and the Ulster opener versus Antrim due to a hand injury but is back doing contact work and should come into the side to take on Monaghan.

Experienced defender Ryan McCluskey also seems set to line out against Malachy O’Rourke’s side after recovering from the leg injury that forced him off inside the opening half hour against the Saffrons.

The only real doubt appears to be over forward Ruairi Corrigan, who lasted just 20 minutes against Antrim due to the recurrence of a hamstring problem, but even he may be available against Monaghan on June 21.

“Ruairi aggravated the hamstring strain that he got against Armagh in the League Final,” explained McGrath. “We were disappointed that he had to come off after 20 minutes, we thought he’d come through the game, or at least a bigger part of the game.

“At any rate, it gave him a lot of bother. He’s obviously getting a lot of treatment, he’s doing some gentle running, and he’s a quick enough healer, so we’d be hopeful.

“He’s very hopeful and the physios are hopeful that if he can get back into some kind of meaningful training next week he’d be a real possibility of starting against Monaghan. We’re just monitoring him from session to session.”

McCluskey didn’t last much longer, but the Enniskillen Gael is not a doubt for the Monaghan match, says McGrath:

“Ryan McCluskey, suffered no serious soft tissue damage, it was more the impact on his outstretched leg of the player falling on top of him. Ryan has done some light training and we would expect him to be in full training certainly by the end of this week or the weekend. At this stage he is not in any kind of doubt for the Monaghan game.

“He tried to go on [against Antrim] but couldn’t go on. The medical people are very confident, and so is Ryan, that he will be fine for Sunday week.”

As for Donnelly, McGrath revealed that his captain had set his sights on this stage of the season for his return: “We knew Eoin would miss those two games, the League Final and the Antrim match.

“Way back when he sustained the hand injury, and had a bit of surgery on it, he targeted the Ulster semi-final as the date when he would be ready to play. He is still on target, still on course.

“He hasn’t missed any training, he’s done all the physical work, all the running. The only things he hadn’t done are contact and meaningful contact with the ball, which he is now doing.

“Eoin is available for selection and, if selected, he would give the team an extra dimension, which he gave it all year in the League.”

Responding to the suggestion that midfielder Donnelly would definitely start if fit, McGrath replied: “That’s probably a fair point to make, he’s going to be a very strong contender for selection.

“He’s a talented footballer, he’s big physically, he’s got a marvellous attitude and, during the seven regulation matches in the League, Eoin Donnelly was a pivotal figure. So we’ll be delighted to have him back.”

Only Corrigan and McCluskey missed training on Sunday morning, after a programme of Fermanagh League games last Friday.

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