Tuesday 21 November 2017

Donegal's Ryan McHugh set to step in for stricken brother

Donegal’s Ryan McHugh and Mark McHugh combine to challenge Conor Laverty of Down during the Ulster SFC semi-final at Breffni Park yesterday
Donegal’s Ryan McHugh and Mark McHugh combine to challenge Conor Laverty of Down during the Ulster SFC semi-final at Breffni Park yesterday
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Ryan McHugh is expected to replace his older brother Mark in Donegal's specialist sweeper role ahead of tomorrow's qualifier in Carrick-on-Shannon.

McHugh has played in the last two championship matches and was one of their more effective substitutes in the defeat to Monaghan.

Mark McHugh has already been ruled out of action for the next two rounds, provided Donegal remain in the championship after this weekend, after sustaining injuries which are reported to be consistent with a car crash in the early stages of Sunday's Ulster final.

McHugh suffered a perforated ear drum and a five-centimetre wound on his thigh as well as being concussed and couldn't remember many parts of the build-up to the game. He was detained in hospital in Letterkenny for two nights.

Stephen Gollogly, the Monaghan player who collided with him with such ferocity, also suffered a nasty facial injury.

But there is concern in Donegal at the nature of McHugh's injuries and the increased level of physicality which he is facing in every game now.

With Karl Lacey, he is the key component in the Donegal game plan both for his reading of the game and ability to restart so many of Donegal's penetrative moves but opponents have clearly been paying more attention to his influence over the last 12 months.

In the last two games, three of the players, Frank McGlynn and Ryan Bradley against Down and McHugh against Monaghan, have sustained concussion from heavy collisions, underlining the level of physicality in their games now.

Gollogly escaped caution from referee David Coldrick for the collision. He was removed himself from the field of play as a blood substitute but didn't return.

Lacey is expected to start the match against Laois despite suffering from an acute lack of fitness last Sunday after hip and knee injuries over the last six months.

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