Ulster Senior Championship

Bonner satisfied with championship draw as he recalls a few old faces

McLoone and MacNiallais to return to Donegal squad

Tom Comack

Reporter:

Tom Comack

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sport@donegaldemocrat.com

DONEGAL MANAGER LATEST:  Declan Bonner still the frontrunner as job deadline looms

Declan Bonner

New Donegal manager Declan Bonner is satisfied with Donegal’s Ulster Senior Championship draw, although he admits he would have preferred to have avoided the preliminary round.

Donegal have drawn Cavan at home in the preliminary round, with the winners facing Derry in the quarter-final. The winners of that tie will play either Antrim or Down in the semi-final.

“The good thing about the draw is we are at home," Bonner said.

"A home game in the Ulster Championship is always a big thing, though obviously we would have preferred if we had avoided the preliminary round.

“We know what Cavan will bring to the table. They have enjoyed a lot of success at U-21 level in recent years and they enjoyed good progress last summer under Mattie McGleenan.

"The word is they are talking about the first or second weekend in May for the game. This would give us, if they opted for first weekend in May, a six-week turnaround from the end of the league which is a pretty tight time line.

“But that is the hand we have been dealt. There are no easy games in Ulster and we are not looking past Cavan.”

The new boss is still working on his panel for next season. However, other than Karl Lacey, he does not expect any further retirements.

Donegal’s prospects have also been boosted by the return of Leo McLoone and Odhran MacNiallais.

They both opted out of the squad at the start of the season and spent the summer in New York, before returning for their respective clubs for the latter stages of the club championship.  

Meanwhile, there have been recalls for Malin’s Declan Walsh, the Kilcar pair of Stephen McBrearty and Ciaran McGinley, and Stephen McMenamin, Red Hugh's. There have also been call-ups for Gary Merritt, Milord and Kevin McBrearty, Four Masters.

The full championship draw for Ulster: 

Preliminary Round

Donegal v Cavan

Quarter-finals

Derry v Donegal/Cavan

Down v Antrim

Fermanagh v Armagh

Tyrone v Monaghan

Semi-finals

Donegal/Cavan/Derry v Down/Antrim

Fermanagh/Armagh v Tyrone/Monaghan