The Donegal League begin their Oscar Traynor Cup campaign this Sunday with a home tie against Cavan/Monaghan, at the Moss, Drumoghill. (Kick-off 1.30 pm)
This is the first of three games and Donegal’s only home game.
They others are away to Inishowen in the second round and Sligo/Leitrim in the third round.
Inishowen and Sligo/Leitrim also go head to head this Sunday, in what is an away game for Inishowen.
Donegal had a good run in the competition last year and ended a barren harvest in the interleague competition to qualify for the last four for the first time since 1982,
They went down 3-1 in last year’s semi final to Clare, who went on to win the competition outright.
Brian Dorrian is back as manager again this season with Peter Doherty, Mark Curran and Tommy McFadden his assistants. Ian Strain is the goalkeeping coach and Mickey McGlynn is the team physio.
Donegal are still hurting from that last four defeat to Clare and the management are hopeful the lesson learned from that 3-1 defeat will stand to Donegal this season.
“We just lost concentration at crucial times and gave away two bad goals against Clare and ultimately paid the price,” assistant manager Peter Doherty told the Democrat.
“It was hard to take because we were the better side over the 90 minutes and it was even more disappointing when they went on to win the competition.”
Up to 12 of last season’s 23 man squad are back on board again this season.
Mark Gallagher, Joe Coll, Benny Bonner, Paul Sweeney, Ryan Shields, Jamie Boyle, Chris Malseed, Gary Merritt, Damien Crossan, Kyle Black, Glen Gallagher and Philip White from this year’s squad were also on board last year.
Dylan Early, Darren McGeever, James Mailey, Michael Doherty, Ray Quinn, Raymond Foy, Kevin Dorrian, Gavin McGlanaghy, Richie Moore and Ciaran McGeady are the new faces.
Of these Raymond Foy and Michael Doherty are the big name additions. They are both ex-Finn Harps players with Foy the most recent having played in the early part of the season for Harps in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland and was Harps Player of the Year last season.
“Raymond and Michael are huge additions. They bring great experience but overall the young lads have really freshened the squad up and we have got together a very strong squad and we are very happy with it,” insisted the assistant manager.
Donegal have been together for seven weeks, training at least once a week and sometimes twice a week, depending on the Donegal League schedule.
The have also played a number of friendlies and have recorded wins over Cockhill United and Fanad United and lost to Derry City Reserves.
Other than Damian Crossan (cracked rib), Donegal have a fully fit squad for Sunday’s tie.
The Donegal squad is as follows: Mark Gallagher (Rathmullan Celtic), Dylan Early (Lifford Celtic), Joe Coll (Glenea Utd), Darren McGeever (Glenea Utd), Benny Bonner (Drumkeen Utd), Ryan Shields (Kilmacrennan Celtic), James Mailey (Kildrum Tigers), Jamie Boyle (Gweedore Celtic), Ray Quinn (Drumoghill Celtic), Paul Sweeney (Glenea Utd), Chris Malseed (Drumoghill Celtic), Philip Whyte (Drumoghill Celtic), Michael Doherty (Lagan Harps), Raymond Foy (Castlefin Celtic), Kevin Doran (Rathmullan Celtic), Damian Crossan (Kildrum Tigers), Glen Gallagher (Lagan Harps), Kyle Black (Milford Utd), Gary Merritt (Milford Utd), Gavin McGlanaghy (Lagan Harps), Richie Moore (Drumoghill Celtic), Ciaran McGeady (Glenea Utd).