Monday 22 October 2018

Devenney in clear following NY trip

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

DONEGAL forward ace Brendan Devenney had full permission from his own County Board to play in New York last weekend, despite the potential for injury just a week ahead of this Sunday's big Ulster SFC semi-final clash with Derry.

Devenney scored 1-4 playing for the Donegal club in the Big Apple and in order for him to get that 'weekend release', his temporary transfer forms had to be signed by the County Board Secretary and his own club, St Eunan's Letterkenny.

A County Board source confirmed yesterday that, despite the injury threat, they had let Devenney go because they understood he was honouring a long-standing commitment made to his New York contacts.

Fortunately the corner-forward star who has scored 1-11 for Donegal in their two games to date was back unscathed at training last night and features in an unchanged side from that which beat Down so impressively in the quarter-final.

Half-forward John Haran is available again after a month's suspension but manager Mickey Moran has opted to leave Christy Toye at right half-forward and hold Haran, like fit-again Damien Diver, as back-up on the bench.

Unlike the North American or Canadian boards where visiting players have to be students and/or stay on a more long-term basis, the New York Board, under Rule 41 of the Official GAA Rules, has a unique arrangement whereby players can go in and out for weekends with the restriction that clubs can only use two 'visiting' footballers (and three hurlers) per weekend.

Elsewhere Offaly's hurlers got their own big break ahead of Saturday's qualifiers against Meath, a potential banana-skin because the Royals are coached by their former team-mate Michael Duignan whose side shocked Laois in the preliminaries.

Rory Hanniffy, Stephen Brown, Brian Carroll, Damien Murray, Joe Brady and five more of the Offaly senior squad were due to line out for the U-21s against Laois in a Leinster quarter-final tonight but the Leinster Council has agreed to postpone that game until Tuesday, June 25 in Birr.

Such is the seriousness of Meath's approach that Duignan recently dropped players who weren't able to commit to training including prominent players like Joe Toole and Anton O'Neill who both played last time out against Dublin.

And while they've also lost corner-back Paul Gannon (chipped bone) Meath should have Ray Dorran back from injury when they name later today.

Cavan footballers have serious injury problems ahead of their 1st Round Qualifier replay against Limerick in Kingspan Breffni Park.

They'll definitely be without U-21 wing-back captain Michael Brides (broken leg) and Jason Reilly (carrying a knee problem) while both Dermot McCabe and Larry Reilly are carrying heavy knocks to their shoulders.

Opponents Limerick who have a contrastingly clean bill of health, will have inspirational midfielder John Quane on board as he was sent off for two yellows are determined to finish the job this time.

"Most people think we threw it away because we were four points up and should never have let it go to injury-time when we lost the man but we are still very confident and determined that we can do it," insisted Limerick boss Liam Kearns who will pick today.

The dream team of former All-Ireland winning captains Paddy O'Rourke and DJ Kane is the fans' favourite to succeed Pete McGrath.

The two ex-skippers have been tipped to take over the reins in the belief that they can restore badly-wounded Mourne pride. Ross Carr was on both 1991 and '94 teams that lifted Sam Maguire and he believes O'Rourke would be an ideal and popular candidate.

"In a way, he'd be in a similar position to Pete McGrath when he took over Down. There had been a series of poor results Paddy would demand a change," said Carr.

"Pete changed a few mind-sets and that's what Paddy would be able to do now. There are a few boys who think they are better than they really are. Paddy definitely would not take that," he added.

Despite all the initial speculation, it's likely to be August until the Down County Board make an appointment.

DONEGAL (SF v Derry) T Blake; S Carr, M Crossan, N McGinley; R Sweeney, B Monaghan, K Cassidy; J Gildea, J McGuinness; C Toye, M Hegarty, B Roper; A Sweeney, B Devenney, P McGonigle.

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