JIM McGUINNESS feels because colleges have priority over student county players in the Dr McKenna Cup, Donegal will be at a disadvantage when the National Football League starts next month.
McGuinness was speaking in the wake of his side’s 0-11 to 0-9 defeat by UUJ in Letterkenny when CJ McGourty scored four late points to win it for the students. Donegal face Cavan in Breffni Park on Sunday in their second match of the New Year before welcoming Derry to Ballybofey on Wednesday week, January 18, also in the Dr McKenna Cup.
Should a semi-final berth not be secured, Donegal next outing will see them take on Down in Newry on February 4 in their NFL Division One opener.
“The difficulty for us is we have a lot of players at other colleges,” McGuinness said. “We’d prefer to have them with us in the lead into the Down game but that’s the way it is. We just have to focus on the lads we have here in this dressing room and bring them up to a good level.
“We’re trying to develop the squad and develop fitness for the next few weeks and we had two lads there today playing for Jordanstown and a couple down the country and Mark McHugh in the west. We’re at a slight disadvantage because of that and heading to Newry for a first league game without them having played a competitive game for us is a difficult situation.
“We’re a young squad and a year down the track and we’re still trying to develop them and develop cohesion in what you want to do. It’s not easy going into a game against Down and then we have Laois the week afterwards.”
Leo McLoone and Eoin Waide of Naomh Conaill were doing battle for UUJ against their home county at O’Donnell Park under the watchful eye of McGuinness, while there was Donegal participation in the Leinster and Connacht equivalents.
Antoin McFadden saw red at Baltinglass, as his 13-man DCU got the better of Wicklow on a 0-18 to 1-14 scoreline in the O’Byrne Cup. His St Michael’s clubmate Martin McElhinney played at centre-field, while Michael Boyle, the Termon netminder, came on as a substitute.
Mark Anthony McGinley, also from St Michael’s, kept goal for UCD in their 0-15 to 0-11 win over Laois as Donie Kingston kicked seven points for the Belfield residents against his home county at Crettyard. Aodh Ruadh’s Johnny Gallagher, who played for Donegal under Brian McIver and John Joe Doherty, was corner-back for DIT in their 2-11 to 0-9 loss to Kildare in Newbridge.
Another Termon player, Christy Connaghan, was in Dr McKenna Cup action and a point-scorer as his St Mary’s side were defeated 0-14 to 0-16 by Monaghan in Clones in Section B, while Mark McHugh from Kilcar wore the No 15 jersey for the IT Sligo team that defeated London 1-10 to 1-4 under the floodlights at Ballinode on Saturday night in the FBD Connacht League.