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Monday 11 December 2017

Injury toll will tell on Derry in Donegal tie

A REPRISE of last year's Ulster final, but so much has happened in the interim. Donegal went agonisingly close to an All-Ireland final while inspiring doomsday debates about the future of Gaelic football with their uber-defensive tactics.

Derry, meanwhile, have careered back into the chasing pack. A speedy qualifier exit to Kildare was followed by an erratic Division 2 campaign best summed up by their last outing: they led Westmeath by seven points at one stage only to lose by eight.

That left John Brennan's men one point clear of relegation, which won't inspire confidence against a Donegal team with the twin advantages of home venue and an earlier championship outing (a relatively straightforward six-point win over Cavan).



reputation

Derry have a reputation for big one-off performances and their chances of doing so here are boosted by the return of Paddy Bradley for his 50th championship outing, having missed last year with a torn cruciate.

However, that's offset by another injury to his mercurial brother Eoin while playing for Glenullin. "Eoin Bradley should not have been playing club football -- his rehab is not right," Brennan said.

The Derry boss has named two SFC debutants -- corner-back John McCamley and wing-forward Eugene Scullion -- whereas Donegal counterpart Jim McGuinness, typically, has not revealed his hand. However, Rory Kavanagh (ankle) and forward talisman Michael Murphy (out with a knee injury since March) are "back in the picture", according to McGuinness, and could feature in some capacity.

ODDS: Donegal 8/15, Draw 15/2, Derry 2/1

VERDICT: Donegal

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