Donegal U-21 manager Maxi Curran has finalised his squad for this season’s Ulster U-21 championship. The Downings man has named a 28 man panel.
The panel contains five of Jim McGuinness’s senior squad - Patrick McBrearty, Ryan McHugh, Marty O’Reilly, Hugh McFadden and Darach O’ Connor. It also includes former Manchester United apprentice Joe Coll, Cloughaneely, and a number of players that have already played county minor. They include Ciaran Cannon, Ciaran Thompson, Gavin ‘Fireman’ Gallagher, Eoin McHugh, Anthony Blair, Darragh Mulgrew, Conor Parke, Eamon McGrath, Brendan McNelis, John O’Malley, Willie Gillespie, Barry Griffin and Kevin McNern.
There are also a number of players such as Kevin McLaughlin, Andrew McCloskey, Ciaran Brennan, Eunan Doherty and Lee McMonagle who are getting their first real opportunity at inter-county level.
In all 17 clubs - Cloughaneely, Urris, Sean MacCumhaill’s, Letterkenny Gaels, Kilcar, Naomh Conaill, Gaoth Dobhair, St Eunan’s, Bundoran, Aodh Ruadh, Killybegs, Ardara, Naomh Colmcille, Termon, Buncrana, St Naul’s and Naomh Columba - out of the county’s 39 clubs make up the squad.
Curran is in his second year in the job has been joined by Jim McGuinness’s former number two Rory Gallagher. They have been working away since before Christmas and have played a number of challenge games in recent weeks.
“We have been working away nice and quietly since Christmas and we have got a good bit of work done and we are happy enough with the preparations,” Maxi told the Democrat last night.
“We finalised the panel last week and we have played a number of challenge games over the last three weeks or so.
“We lost to Roscommon, drew with Derry and beat Tipperary and Kildare last weekend. The difficulty with U-21 is that due to other commitments it is not always possible to have all your players available to you for games. But overall we are happy with where we are at with a month to go to our game with Fermanagh.”
Curran took his squad away last weekend and they stayed in Johnston House as the preparations for the Ulster Championship are into the final furlong.
Donegal play Fermanagh in the first round in Ulster on Wednesday night March 19th in MacCumhaill Park.
The winners of that tie will face either Armagh or Antrim, who also meet in the first round. Derry, Monaghan, Tyrone, Down and Cavan are all on the other side of the draw.
With up to eight of the squad based in Dublin, they have been training one night a week in Omagh, to facilitate the players travelling from the capital.
Donegal are due to continue their warm-up this Saturday, when they play Mayo in Ballina.
The squad is as follows: Joe Coll (Cloughaneely), Kevin McLaughlin (Urris), Andrew McCloskey, Marty O’Reilly (Sean MacCumhaill’s), Ciaran Cannon (Letterkenny Gaels), Ciaran Brennan, Ciaran Thompson, Eunan Doherty, John O’Malley (Naomh Conaill), Gavin ‘Fireman’ Gallagher (Sean MacCumhaill’s), Ryan McHugh, Eoin McHugh, Patrick McBrearty (Kilcar), Anthony Blair (Gaoth Dobhair), Darragh Mulgrew, Conor Parke, Lee McMonagle (St Eunan’s), Gary Clancy (Bundoran), Eamon McGrath (Aodh Ruadh), Hugh McFadden (Killybegs), Kevin Herron, Brendan McNelis (Ardara), Willie Gillespie (Naomh Colmcille), Dara McDaid (Termon), Darach O’Connor, Peter McLaughlin (Buncrana), Barry Griffin (St Naul’s), Kevin McNern (Naomh Columba).