New Donegal manager Rory Gallagher insists he will give three members of last year’s All-Ireland final panel time to consider their futures.
Rory Kavanagh played championship football with St Eunan’s for seven out of eight successive weeks after Donegal’s All-Ireland final loss and is having an extended break, as is Leo McLoone of Naomh Conaill, while his clubmate Anthony Thompson is employed outside the country.
“We’re waiting on Rory Kavanagh, who had a long season last year and we’ve left him for January,” Gallagher said.
“Leo McLoone is having a bit of a break as well and Anthony Thompson, at this point in time, is working in the UK. We’re not rushing any of them for now but we will see later this month.”
In their Dr McKenna Cup opener in Owenbeg against Derry yesterday - a 1-16 to 0-8 loss - Gallagher didn’t start with a single player who began the 2-9 to 0-12 final defeat against Kerry in September.
Eamon Ward and Joe Gibbons from Glenswilly, St Eunan’s Conor Parke, Eunan Doherty of Naomh Conaill, Kilcar clubman Ciaran McGinley, Moville’s Malachy McDermott and Ardara’s Ryan Malley all made their senior inter-county debuts.
Emmett McGuckin scored what proved to be the only goal of the game on 16 minutes.
In the second half, Brian McIver’s team – who open their Allianz League Division One campaign away to Donegal on January 31 – were much too strong.
“Derry had a strong team out in comparison to ourselves and that told,” Gallagher said.
“The way we are approaching it is to give our more experienced players time off and use this as a pre-season. That’s the choice we made.
“We’d hope to be as strong as we can by the time of the Derry game in the League in Ballybofey. That’s the immediate aim. It’s to try and get the 2014 squad up to speed – they didn’t come back training till December 29 - but I fully expect to get them up to speed.”
Gallagher was joined U-21 manager Maxi Curran on the sideline, while Gary McDaid, who has, most recently, managed Glenswilly for the last two seasons, was also part of party, but was in the stand as part of an eight-week suspension.
Gallagher expects to have his backroom team formalised this week. He said: “There’s an executive meeting there within our own county board on Thursday as there’s been a break for five or six weeks and they just want to pass that.”