Donegal will have a Westmeath man with Kilcar connections as trainer for the coming season.
Jack Cooney is part of Rory Gallagher’s backroom team went before Donegal County Committee meeting on Monday night for ratification.
Married to Elaine Byrne, Cooney was a mentor in Westmeath under Paidi O Sé when they won the 2004 Leinster championship and last year managed Celbridge in Kildare to a Division One title.
Cooney was ratified by the clubs of the county on a three-man management team with Rory Gallagher and former Glenswilly manager Gary McDaid.
Meanwhile, Eamon McGee is likely to return to the Donegal fold for Wednesday night’s Dr McKenna Cup fixture against Fermanagh in Ballybofey, throw-in 8pm.
Manager Gallagher got his first win since taking office yesterday when his side overcame Queen’s University Belfast 2-16 to 1-8 in miserable conditions in Ballybofey.
Following the 1-16 to 0-8 loss against Derry in Owenbeg seven days’ beforehand, Gallagher reintroduced Paddy McGrath, Declan Walsh, Frank McGlynn, Christy Toye and Odhran MacNiallais to the starting line-up.
MacNiallais put in a man of the match performance from centre-forward - kicking six points - while St Michael’s Toye and Martin McElhinney teamed up well at centre-field.
Gallagher is aiming to have as close to a fully fit panel as possible for the Allianz League Division One opener against Derry on Saturday, January 31.
McGee has not played for Donegal since last September’s All-Ireland final loss to Kerry but has been training with the senior panellists.
“Neil Gallagher, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden and Neil McGee have all been training well,” manager Gallagher said yesterday.
“For Wednesday, there won’t be a lot of changes but if anyone comes in then it’ll be Eamon McGee.”
Gallagher is a native of Belleek and will cross swords with his native county on Wednesday.
Fermanagh defeated Derry 1-9 to 1-7 at Brewster Park in Enniskillen yesterday having got the better of Queen’s a week beforehand on a 1-13 to 0-9 scoreline..
“I know from talking to people at home Fermanagh are putting in a massive effort,” Gallagher added. “They’ve been back training before most teams but there’s a big push.
“Pete McGrath was a late appointment last year and they’re going well having beaten Derry. Fermanagh will probably be fitter than us but no more than Derry or Queen’s we won’t look at the opposition, we will look at ourselves.”
A win of five points or more means Donegal will pass Fermanagh but with Derry facing Queen’s, Rory Gallagher may have to settle for second spot.
With the best of the three group runners-up qualifying for the semi-finals, Donegal still have an outside chance.
“We’re not overly bothered about qualifying from the group,” Gallagher said. “But if we can get a good performance then we’ll be happy with that.”