Hurling & Camogie

Donegal have key players back for trip to Roscommon

The Tír Chonaill side still harbour ambitions of a place in the League final and promotion

Mickey McCann Donegal manager Mickey McCann. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET McLAUGHLIN PICTURES / C)

Allianz Hurling League Division 2B

Roscommon v Donegal (Sunday, Dr Hyde Park, 1pm)

DONEGAL have three of their top performers back and available for selection for tomorrow’s trip to Roscommon.

The gifted Daire O’Maoileidigh has missed the whole campaign to date, while the injured Ruari Campbell and Jack O’Loughlin (travelling) are also back in contention.

Donegal have three points from a possible six after beating Wicklow, losing to Derry and drawing against Tyrone.

This means Donegal, Tyrone and London are all on three points with just two games left.

Manager McCann welcomed the return of the three players.

“Daire is a very bright hurler while Ruairi and Jack certainly strengthen our hand and we will need a full deck against a big physical Roscommon team.

Danny Cullen and Ronan McDermott will not feature until the Nickey Rackard Cup but Declan Coulter looks like he might make the later stages of the League, according to McCann.

The Donegal boss has mixed feelings on the drawn match against Tyrone.

“We could have lost it and could have won it. We were three points up at a stage, but a few puzzling refereeing decisions went against us.

“Conor Gartland got a heavy hit to the head, and we thought it was a free, but even if it wasn’t the play should have been stopped.

“Play continued and Tyrone got a goal and that was a big moment in the match.

“We went two points up again and Tyrone levelled it in the third minute of injury-time.

“I felt that we played the better hurling, but I felt that Tyrone got a lot of soft frees and 60 per cent of Tyrone’s scores came from frees.

“But we would have been more disappointed if we had lost.”

So, two points tomorrow will be vital for Donegal.

“I saw Roscommon beat a useful London side and I fancied them to beat Tyrone but the Red Hands beat them fairly well, so it is hard to know what kind of a side they really are.

“It is an away match, and it is a big ask and as we are level on points with them and Tyrone, so two points for either team would go a long way towards sealing a semi-final slot.

“If three teams end up on three points scoring average comes it and if it’s a two- way tie then it is head-to-head and if we win, we would be ahead.

“And, if Tyrone beat London it will put the latter out of the mix”

But the immediate challenge is a mercurial Roscommon side, for whom Joe Canning’s nephew, Sean, is a key figure.

“They are under new management and seem to be going a bit better than last year.

“They have pretty much the same squad and are a big physical side up the middle.

“We saw them against Tyrone, and they togged out much bigger than Tyrone and I thought they would physically overpower Tyrone but Tyrone outworked them and were well worth their win.

“Roscommon go long with puck-outs and it is going to be a test for us but one we are looking forward to.”