Tuesday 19 November 2019

Eamon McGee and Karl Lacey winning fitness race to face Mayo

Karl Lacey could return from injury in time to play Mayo this weekend
Karl Lacey could return from injury in time to play Mayo this weekend

Chris McNulty

Eamon McGee is set to win his fitness race ahead of Donegal's All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo on Saturday, while there could yet be a place for Karl Lacey.

McGee was withdrawn at half-time in Donegal's qualifier win over Galway at Croke Park on Saturday because of an ankle injury, but Rory Gallagher, the Donegal manager, is optimistic of the defender's chances of facing May.

"Eamon rolled his ankle but it has not swollen up," Gallagher said. "It is the same ankle he rolled against Armagh. He was back seven to 10 days training but the fact that it has not swollen would suggest he will be back in a few days."

Lacey missed the Galway game owing to a knee ligament injury sustained in last month's Ulster final defeat to Monaghan.

However, the four-time All-Star is in with a chance of returning to the team this weekend, provided he comes through a training session tomorrow evening.

Lacey returned to light training in Letterkenny on Sunday and will be given every chance to prove his fitness.

Gallagher said: "It is a race against time but we would be a lot more optimistic than this time last week. We are going to monitor it day by day."

The 2012 Footballer of the Year is rated as '50-50', but his manager is confident that the centre-back will be in contention for a spot in the quarter-final.

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Gallagher said: "It was a two- to five-week injury and this is heading for three now. He's done a massive amount of rehab and he did a bit of light running on Sunday. He's at the mercy of the medical team, but he won't be risked unless he's right.

"We'll allow Karl right up until Friday. We'd hope that he'll take part on Wednesday, but the chances are improving by the day."

Martin McElhinney didn't start against Galway, but is expected to make his return to the first XV this week after making a big impact off the bench against Galway.


McElhinney didn't train since the Ulster final because of a knee problem, while Darach O'Connor will be back in the match-day squad this week after a knee injury prevented participation on Saturday.

Gallagher, who has added Eoghan 'Bán' Gallagher and Ciarán Thompson to the Tír Chonaill squad in recent weeks, is relishing the quick turnaround.

He said: "You go back to 2005 and Tyrone played ten games to win the All-Ireland.

"Playing games gives great momentum. The boys enjoy it and the boys love the buzz coming up to a game. It builds a greater atmosphere.

"It is the exact same for Mayo, whether they knew if we were going to come through or not they could not be certain.

"There is very little that both teams don't know about each other at this stage but once we get the wee knocks and bruises over we are happy with the seven days."

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