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01 Oct 2022

Padraig Doherty: 'We won’t be playing Conor until he is cleared to do so'

Conor O'Donnell has been missing for Carndonagh in their Junior A Championship campaign having underwent a knee operation but manager Padraig Doherty will only play the Donegal star when he is 100 percent fit

Padraig Doherty: 'We won’t be playing Conor until he is cleared to do so'

Conor O'Donnell from Carndonagh had a fine season for Donegal

Carndonagh could do with Conor O’Donnell’s participation to keep their Donegal Junior A championship dreams on track -  but their manager insists they won’t be forcing their injured talisman back until he was 100 percent.

The Donegal forward is currently sidelined following routine knee cartilage surgery with his club side having opened their championship with a win over Na Rossa before losing out in a high-scoring affair against Letterkenny Gaels, 3-14 to 2-12.

“Conor picked up an injury playing with Donegal,” Carndonagh manager Padraig Doherty said on Saturday. “He only played one game with us that was against Burt and he has been out since. It is a matter of wait and see what the Sports Clinic in Santry says now on Conor. 

“He had a routine procedure on the knee and now it is a matter of waiting to see what the specialists say. Conor’s health is more important than anything else and we won’t be playing him until he is cleared to do so. We want him for next year and the year after. We don’t want him for a couple of games now and he is out then for the rest of the season.”

With or without O’Donnell, the objective is very simple for Doherty if his side want to reach the knockout stages of this year’s championship. 

“If we want to be sure of making the later stages we are going to have to win our two remaining games. It’s as simple as that,” said the Carndonagh boss who also doubles as the team’s full back.

Carndonagh are in a very competitive group made up of last year’s beaten finalists Letterkenny Gaels, Na Rossa, Moville, Naomh Colmcille and Pettigo.

“It is a very tight group and with only three teams from the group qualifying for the quarter-finals you cannot afford to lose too many games. We are home to Moville next weekend and away to Naomh Colmcille in the last round. And after losing to the Gaels we have to  win those two games to be sure of qualification. 

“Letterkenny Gaels are more  than likely through to the knockout stages after that win this evening and have won last weekend. That probably leaves Na Rossa, Moville  and ourselves fighting for two places. 

“And you cannot rule out Naomh Colmcille or Pettigo putting a couple of wins together. So as you can see it is going to be tight and the only way we can be sure is win the two games which won’t be easy.” 

Reflecting on Saturday night’s five-point loss defeat to Letterkenny Gaels, Doherty was disappointed with the outcome given they were in the game at half-time. 

Letterkenny Gaels led 0-9 to 0-8 after an even first half and after Carndonagh played the closing nine minutes of the half down to 14 players. Cian Doherty was shown a black card by referee Stephen Doherty.

“The black card just before half-time was a big call and proved costly,” he said. “It was one of those situations where there are days they are given and there are days they are not. We had come back into the game well and I felt we had momentum and we went a point up after the black card. But down a man we could not sustain it and they hit two late points to lead by one at half-time.   

“If we hadn’t gone down the man we would have probably pushed on and led at half-time and  it would have been a different game in the second half. I felt tiredness towards the end was a factor too. We had a number of lads just back from injury and they are not match fit and  tired near the end.

“We made small and minute mistakes and that can be costly in a championship game. The championship is different from the league. It is played with more intensity and those silly and simple mistakes we are going to have to eradicate if we are to progress.”    

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