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Hinphey decision a blow for Cassidy

By John Campbell

Derry manager Damian Cassidy has been dealt a double blow as he prepares for Sunday’s important National Football League Division One tie against All Ireland champions Kerry in Tralee.

Liam Hinphey has withdrawn from the panel citing personal reasons while long-serving full-back Niall McCluskey must now undergo a further groin operation in England and may not be available again until August — by which stage, of course, the Oak Leaf men still hope to have an active interest in the destination of the All Ireland title.

Hinphey will continue to turn out for the Derry hurling side in which his brother Kevin is currently a central figure and will also play his club football with Dungiven, but he will be conspicuous by his absence from the county football line-up.

To compound Cassidy’s current worries the ongoing absence of McCluskey means that manager Cassidy is almost certain to persevere with his skipper Gerard O’Kane in the No 3 shirt since Kevin McCloy has not yet returned to action.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Cassidy. The McGoldrick brothers Barry and Sean Leo, both of whom displayed consistency and commitment in the half-back line for the greater part of last year, have returned from Australia and are back in training.

Both will be in the squad for Sunday’s game and there is further encouragement for Cassidy now that Enda Muldoon has had the cast removed from his injured ankle and will be resuming light training. Muldoon has suffered damage to the same metatarsal bone in his ankle three times in the past eighteen months and is hoping his injury jinx has now run its course.

Cassidy is hoping to have the big Ballinderry man back in his side for the Ulster Championship preliminary round match against Armagh in May.

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