With Donegal football on the crest of a wave, Donegal U-16 footballers fly the county flag this weekend in the Ulster U-16 Buncrana Cup.
The competition is down to the last four, and this Saturday, Donegal, Monaghan, Tyrone and Derry fight it out to claim the prestigous crown.
The semi-finals are on Saturday morning with Donegal going toe to toe with Monaghan in Burt, and Derry taking on Tyrone in Muff. Both games throw-in at 11.30 am and are played over 50 minutes.
The winners of the two semi-finals advance to the final in Buncrana, on Saturday afternoon, throw-in 3.30, with the losing semi-finalists playing in a third and fourth play-off, also in Buncrana, throw-in 2.30.
Donegal are managed this season by former Donegal senior manager Declan Bonner, with Gary Doyle, Naomh Mhuire; Robert Farren, Malin; Shay Murrin, Killybegs as assistants and Sean Noonan, Lifford, the team coach.
Donegal booked their place in the semi-final with victories over Derry and Cavan in the qualifying rounds and they have also been busy in recent months on the challenge circuit.
Bonner took his squad to Dublin last weekend and they warmed up for this weekend with a win over Dublin on Sunday morning, and before that they had registered challenge wins over Cavan and Sligo.
“They are a talented bunch of footballers and we have put in a fair bit of work with them since we first got them together over four months ago. Between the qualifying games and challenge games they take an unbeaten run into this weekend,” Declan Bonner told the Democrat.
It is generally agreed that there is a good crop of U-16 footballers in the county and Bonner has assembled the cream of that crop and has worked with them over the last 12 weeks.
Stephen McBrearty from Kilcar, brother of county senior star, Patrick; Owen ‘Ban’ Gallagher, Killybegs (son of John Ban), Niall Friel and Cian Mulligan, Gaoth Dobhair; Colm Kelly, Aodh Ruadh; Christan Bonner (son of Declan) and John McDyre, Na Rossa; Michael Millar, St. Eunan’s; Darragh Black, Milford; Danny Monagle, Carndonagh, Tony McCleneghan, Moville and the Burt pair of Darren Gallagher and Georgie Kelly are expected to backbone the Donegal challenge.
One player that unfortunately isn’t available on Saturday is Bundoran flyer Jamie Brennan. Brennan, who has been ever present all season, suffered a broken arm in last Sunday’s challenge with Dublin, and is going to be out of football for the rest of the season.
Otherwise Bonner has a fully fit squad to choose from for the clash with the Farney county.