Derry are not expected to include any of their Slaughtneil or Eoghan Rua contingent for Wednesday’s second Dr. McKenna Cup tie against Donegal in Celtic Park (8.00pm).
Both clubs exited the All Ireland Hurling Club Championship series at the weekend against Kilkenny opposition, Slaughtneil following an epic battle against Ballyhale in the senior competition while Coleraine came up just short against Canahy Shamrocks at the junior grade.
The ‘silver lining’ to those disappointments though is Rory Gallagher can expect to welcome back Chrissy and Karl McKaigue, Brendan Rogers and Shane McGuigan from the Emmet’s with Niall Holly and Ruairi Mooney coming in from Eoghan Rua for the beginning of the National League though Wednesday’s encounter is too soon.
Niall Loughlin missed the season opener in Inniskeen against Monaghan but Gallagher is expecting to have the Greenlough forward available for Donegal while Conor McAtamney and Jack Doherty could come in from the start with Claudy’s Oran Armstrong also in line to make his senior county debut.
“I’d be hoping Niall Loughlin will be available, Jack Doherty got back in (against Monaghan) and hopefully Cathal Mulholland won’t be too far away either,” explained Gallagher after the opening game against Monaghan.
This year’s reduced team format means Derry have to win to have any hope of making the semi-finals. Monaghan concluded their group phase with defeat to Donegal which means should Declan Bonner’s team win, they will qualify.
A Derry victory would see all three teams tied on two points and score difference needed to decide the group winner with Derry currently seven points worse off than Donegal and 11 off Monaghan.