Donegal have put the league celebrations behind them and it is down to business again tonight (Thursday) as they begin their preparations for the championship and their opening game with Antrim.
It is definitely not a case of manager Jim McGuinness allowing his players rest on their laurels. Nor is it a case of the manager being happy with winning the league and sticking with the squad of players that have brought the county back up to Division One of the National League.
McGuinness, who had his squad back for a recovery and debriefing session on Tuesday night, is planning a series of trial games over the next week or so to see if he can unearth further talent to strengthen his squad.
“We may not have time to organise a trial for Thursday night but we will definitely hold one on Bank Holiday Monday and at least one more next week to take a look at a number of players that we have wanted to have a look at for some time,” McGuinness told the Democrat.
“These are mainly players who were not able to attend trials when we held them earlier in the year or players that are showing up well for their clubs since the season started. There are also a number of players that have been in the squad but have only returned recently from injury and we did not get a chance to use them in either the Dr. McKenna Cup or the League.
“It is a matter of taking a look at as many players as possible and putting the best squad of players that are fit and available together. It is really an ongoing and development process and it is about identifying players so as we have cover for literally every position on the field.”
While he did not mention any names it is understood that Kilcar’s teenage sensation Patrick McBrearty as former squad members Eddie Kelly, Gareth Concarr, Shane McGowan, Ciaran Greene and Kenneth Doherty are among the players the management want to have a look at.
Kieran McBrearty and Sean Maguire are others that have been showing good form in club football; McBrearty at full-back for Naomh Columba in Division Two of the All-County League and Maguire at full-forward for Cloughaneely in Division One. These along with former first choice defender Eamon McGee have been the stand-out players so far in the club scene.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not McGee, who was left out by McGuinness, will be included in the trials.
Killybegs’ Paul McGinley, who has only returned to full fitness in recent weeks, is another that management will want to see how he has recovered. McGinley’s club colleague, Shane Boyle, was added to the squad the week before last but is suffered a broken finger in the first session and will be another player that will be hoping to make the championship panel.
Meanwhile Christy Toye, who has played a number of games with St. Michael’s in recent weeks, is currently nursing a hamstring injury. Long term injured Leo McLoone had a pin removed from his ankle last week in Dublin.
The manager expects McLoone and Killybegs’ Christopher Murrin, who also had major surgery at the end of last year, to be back doing light jogging in the next couple of weeks but they are not expected to be available until much later in the year at the earliest.
Donegal’s next big date is May 15th, when they host Antrim, in the preliminary round of the Ulster Senior Championship.