Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has named a very strong Donegal squad for the forthcoming Dr McKenna Cup campaign.
In all, McGuinness had named 16 of the 2012 All-Ireland winning squad including Paul Durcan, Frank McGlynn, Eamon and Neil McGee, Karl Lacey, Anthony Thompson, Leo McLoone, Rory Kavanagh, Neil Gallagher, Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden, who were ever-present right through the All-Ireland run.
Michael Murphy will once again captain the team.
“We have included everybody except for the boys that are involved with the colleges in their respective competitions,” McGuinness told the Democrat.
There have also been recalls for Glenswilly’s Ciaran Bonner; Leon Thompson, Naomh Conaill; Antoin McFadden, St. Michael’s and Thomas McKinley Naomh Colmcille.
Both McFadden and McKinley were members of the squad during last year’s league campaign but were dropped for the championship.
Buncrana’s exciting teenager Darach O’Connor, a member of last season’s county minor and U-21s, and Malin’s Stephen McLaughlin are the only new faces in the 26 man squad.
“We have a good bit of work done over the last few weeks since we returned to training and it has just a matter of building up our fitness and sharpness again for the McKenna Cup.
“We had a useful workout against Fermanagh last Thursday night in Convoy and we are playing Roscommon on Sunday week in Convoy.
“That will be our last workout before we face Tyrone in the first game in the McKenna Cup, the following Sunday.”
Armagh and Queen’s University, Belfast - who are managed by former Donegal minor and U-21 player Anthony McGrath from Ballyshannon - are the other teams in Section A of the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup.
“We are just keeping our heads down and getting on with our training and building our fitness levels again and looking forward to the new season which starts with the McKenna Cup.”
Donegal’s opening game with Tyrone, which was orignally fixed for Sean MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, will now be played in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny.
This was confirmed this week by the Ulster Council following a request from Donegal. It is believed that Donegal made the request with the view to giving the team a run out on the Letterkenny ground in the likelihood that they will play one of their league games in O’Donnell Park.
Donegal are in a very competitive Division Two of the Allianz Football League having been relegated from the top division at the end of last year.
The other teams in Division Two are Laois, Galway, Monaghan, Meath, Down, Louth and Armagh.
And with four games away and three at home, Donegal are going to have to hit the ground running from day one if they are to make a swift return back up to Divsion One.
The league gets underway on February 2nd with an away tie against Laois in O’ Moore Park, Portlaoise.
They wrap up their campaign in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh against the Orchard County.
In between they have an away trip to Galway, in their second game. This is followed with back to back home ties against Monaghan and Meath. They are away again to Down in round five, before they face Louth at home in round six and Armagh away in round seven.
The home venues have not yet been revealed, however it is understood Fr Tierney Park, in Ballyshannon is to get the Louth game as part of the 60th anniverary of the opening of the ground.