Jim McGuinness says Shaun Patton will be fit for Ulster final

The Donegal goalkeeper missed the semi-final win over Tyrone

Shaun Patton
Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton will be fit to face Armagh in the Ulster final according to manager Jim McGuinness Picture Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

GOALKEEPER Shaun Patton is set to make a return to Donegal colours for the Ulster final against Armagh next Sunday.

The St Eunan’s clubman had to go off in the second half of Donegal’s big win over Derry in the quarter-final in Celtic Park.

But by then his booming pin-point kicks led to two of Donegal’s goals.

He has become a vital cog in the Donegal machine and while replacement Gavin Mulreaney did very well when thrown into last weekend’s semi-final cauldron against Tyrone, Patton’s deadly accurate kicking was missed.

He took part in the warm- up before the Tyrone match but did not start.

When asked about Patton’s fitness last night, Jim McGuinness said:

“Yeah, Shaun is doing good. He trained last night, and we expect him to be fit to play in the Ulster final.

“Shaun had an issue coming back off the training camp before the Derry game and he had a niggle, and he was not feeling right, and we took him off in the Derry match.

“He is heading in the right direction now.

“The goalkeeper position is a different position, and you can have a strain and it does not affect you and if you are out the field and if you are running it might affect you.

“But he is doing good, and it is all good on that front.

“Shaun did feel a strain in the Derry game and in fairness to him he stayed on as long as he could stay on and then he made the decision himself and we were happy with that.

“Shaun is a very mature lad, and he is a smart boy, and he knows his own body and he is very professional in the way he goes about his training.

“Shaun makes good smart decisions and that is what we are trying to build in the group is that sort of a culture where if you feel you are putting yourself in danger and there are going to be major implications regardless how big the game is, you have to make smart decisions and that was a good one from him.

“He got us so far in the game with the kick-outs and brought so much of a threat but equally he did not want to put himself in a situation where he was doing himself more damage.”

When asked if Patton’s absence altered McGuinness’s plans for the Tyrone game, he said: “Not at all. Gavin Mulreaney went in and did a brilliant job and he was able to execute from the kick-out and when he was on the pitch and one of those longer balls over the top were delivered by him for Jamie Brennan’s goal.

“So it did not change anything against Tyrone either and we were very happy with Gavin as well.”

Like his team captain, McGuinness is not interested in talking about the spectre of Donegal playing either Tyrone or Derry in the All-Ireland championship.

“I don’t have any thoughts on it.

“I spent my whole life trying to win an Ulster Championship and was lucky to do it in my first year as a player and never won another one.

“I understand the gravity of this game and what It means for myself the manager, the players and the people of Donegal.

“It is of no interest, and it does not matter whether it is Derry or Tyrone, you are always going to be meeting good teams in the All-Ireland Championship.

“We are very lucky to have managed to get past Derry and Tyrone and to be in a position where we are in an Ulster final.

“We have to enjoy that, relish that and put all of our energy into it.”