Michael Murphy, left, and Donegal manager Declan Bonner before the Allianz Football League Division 1 semi-final match between Donegal and Dublin at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan.
Michael Murphy, left, and Donegal manager Declan Bonner before the Allianz Football League Division 1 semi-final match between Donegal and Dublin at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. 

Michael Murphy fit for Down clash


By John Harrington

Michael Murphy should be fit to play for Donegal against Down in this Sunday’s Ulster SFC preliminary round.

The Donegal captain strained a hamstring in last month’s Allianz Football League Division 1 North clash with Monaghan and didn’t feature in the subsequent matches against Armagh and Dublin.

But Donegal manager, Declan Bonner, is hoping his team talisman is now ready to return.

“Michael has been back over the last week so we’re hopeful that he’s going to be okay and ready to go. A couple more training sessions to go through and we’ll keep an eye on that. We’ll make our decision after those two sessions but at the moment he’s good to go.”

The news is less positive for Odhran MacNiallais who was forced off after 28 minutes of the Allianz Football League Division 1 semi-final against Dublin.

“Odhran won’t be part of it for the weekend,” Bonner said.

“He picked up a soft tissue injury against Dublin in the first half. He’ll not be in contention.”

It is difficult to gauge exactly where this Donegal team is coming into the Championship.

They only lost one game in the League and that was against Dublin, but they only won one too.

And while they displayed impressive attacking firepower in most of their games, their concession rate at the other end of the pitch was also high, most notably against Monaghan when they conceded four goals.

Bonner admits those defensive lapses caused him some concern, but he’s hopeful they won’t reappear against Down.

"Any day you concede four goals, you have to sit down and sort it out, that's for sure," he said.

"It's definitely something we looked at and since then I think we've defended better as a unit and we had to.

“It’s sink or swim at this stage. It’s a matter of getting over the line and getting the victory. That’s what it’s all about.

“It’s back to the old days of knockout football. It’s the same for everyone.

“It’s a big test, going to Newry to play Down, but we’re looking forward to it. It’s all positive.”