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Declan Bonner ‘very hopeful’ of having Michael Murphy fit for Down game

“Michael is not far away at this stage. We’d be very hopeful that he will be available for Sunday.”

Donegal manager Declan Bonner has received a major boost ahead of Sunday’s Ulster championship clash with Down as talisman Michael Murphy looks set to be available for selection.

Murphy was substituted in the early stages of Donegal’s league meeting with Monaghan after picking up a hamstring injury and missed the remainder of the league.

Bonner was optimistic about Murphy’s chances of featuring on Sunday when speaking to Independent.ie.

Michael Murphy and Declan Bonner have worked together since 2018.

“Michael is not far away at this stage,” Bonner said.

“We’d be very hopeful that he will be available for Sunday. We train tonight and train Thursday night. The majority of guys are back on the pitch.”

However, one player who will not play any part on Sunday is Odhran MacNiallais. The Gaoth Dobhair player suffered a soft tissue injury in Donegal’s league semi-final defeat to Dublin and it has ruled him out of contention.

Michael Murphy Declan Bonner

Donegal’s Odhran MacNiallais is unavailable for the Down match.

“Odhran MacNiallais will not be part of it at the weekend,” the Donegal manager said.

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

Donegal reached the 2020 Ulster final and were red-hot favourites to win, but Bonner’s side lost to Cavan in what was one of the biggest GAA shocks in recent history.

Michael Murphy Declan Bonner

Donegal are hoping to reach their fourth consecutive Ulster final under Bonner.

The 2012 All-Ireland champions had a positive league campaign, finishing top of their group and remaining unbeaten in all group matches, before losing narrowly to Dublin in the semi-final.

Donegal have reached nine of the last ten Ulster finals although they will have to win three matches to reach this year’s decider.

Murphy is one of the best footballers of his generation and having him fit will greatly increase his county’s chances of overcoming Down on Sunday.

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