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Fermanagh injury-free as Donegal sweat on Neil Gallagher

Fermanagh's Eoin Donnelly came through Coa's clash with Kinawley unscathed last weekend  

FERMANAGH have reported a clean bill of health from two rounds of club league games, while Donegal continue to sweat on Neil Gallagher’s fitness ahead of next weekend’s Ulster SFC clash.

Erne boss Pete McGrath will have been glad to see Eoin Donnelly get through Coa’s clash with Kinawley last weekend, while Mickey Jones played in Derrygonnelly’s win over Belcoo. The Fermanagh players had also played in club games the previous weekend, in which Jones picked up a bang on the hip, but they appear to have emerged unscathed.

Donnelly had been a doubt ahead of their win over Antrim with a hamstring injury and hadn’t played since prior to last Sunday’s game: “There were league matches on Sunday and I haven’t heard anything,” said McGrath.

“Fergal O’Connor usually contacts me if there are any injury issues because the players contact him, but nothing has come through, thankfully. We don’t train again until [tonight], so I’m hoping everyone has come through unscathed.”

McGrath forced the hand of Fermanagh’s CCC last year in postponing games ahead of their Ulster Championship opener with Antrim by calling county training on the date of proposed games. He did so having seen 11 players return unable to train following a round of club games ahead of their National League Division Three final last April.

The legendary former Down boss says he’s happy with the current situation, which will see club football now continue in Fermanagh without county players: “It’s not a matter of conceding that they have to [play for their clubs], they’re club players at the end of the day. 

“In many ways, the county borrows players from the clubs. We’ve never objected to them playing.  I said to the players during the week and prior to the last matches that so many had come back with niggles last year because they didn’t do their proper warm-up or cool-down.

“It was emphasised to them that, no matter what the club is doing before or after the match, they have to do their own thing if what their club is doing isn’t sufficient. That may have contributed to a much better outcome in terms of having no injuries this season. They play with their clubs and I’ve no problem with that. As well as that, maybe fellas who aren’t getting on the first team or coming on in matches, it’s vital to get match practice.”

Meanwhile, Donegal are waiting to see whether Neil Gallagher will be fit for what will be their Championship opener at Mac Cumhaill Park next Sunday. The experienced Glenswilly midfielder featured sporadically in the Tír Chonaill team during the league. He played just 97 minutes in total, the last of them against Roscommon on March 13, when he played the first-half and then came back in for the last six minutes.

Gallagher hasn’t turned out for his club yet this season, missing their Senior Football Championship defeat by Ardara a fortnight ago. That was a game that created injury concerns for Michael Murphy and Paddy McGrath. Murphy picked up an ankle injury, while McGrath was forced to come off at half-time.

The latter made his return in a club game with Ardara last Saturday evening, but there was still no sign of the Donegal captain in Glenswilly’s defeat by Bundoran.

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