Declan Bonner who will take charge of Donegal in the Dr. McKenna Cup
The Donegal team to play in the forthcoming Dr McKenna Cup will be made up entirely of members of next season’s Donegal U-21 squad.
This was confirmed by Donegal U-21 manager Declan Bonner, who will manage the Donegal team in the Dr McKenna Cup, which throws-in on Sunday week, January 8th.
Donegal, who are in Section C, are home to the Martin McHugh managed University of Ulster, Jordanstown, in MacCumhaill Park.
“It is really down to numbers and the availability of players,” Donegal chairman Sean Dunnion told the Democrat last night.
“We have a large number of the senior players tied to their Colleges and are not available and we also have a number of the seniors who have not returned to training. The availability of players for the McKenna Cup has always been a problem but it is a bigger problem this year and we seem to have bigger numbers tied up with the Colleges.
“Ryan and Eoin McHugh and Patrick McBrearty are tied to UUJ, Hugh McFadden is tied to DCU. This year as well Marty O’Reilly is with Queen’s and there are also a good few of the U-21 squad also committed to their Colleges.
Conor Morrison, Caolan McMonagle and Cian Mulligan are playing with DCU in the O’Byrne Cup; Kieran Gillespie with the Dublin Institute of Technology and Lorcan Connor, UUJ and all are members of both the Donegal U-21 and senior squads.
Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Jamie Brennan are at Sligo IT and are members of both the senior and U-21 squad. But they may be available for the McKenna Cup.
Colm Kelly and Christian Bonner, also members of the U-21 squad, are at NUI Galway.
“In the main, the only players that are available are U-21s so that is why it was decided that it will be the U-21s who will play in the McKenna Cup, with Declan managing them. Rory (Gallagher) will be watching them closely,” said Dunnion.
Up to 14 of next season’s U-21 squad are all members of the Donegal senior squad and have been training with the seniors since they got down to collective training at the start of the month.
“It is far from ideal,” is how Declan Bonner described the arrangement.
But with the prospect of Donegal struggling to field a team in the competition, the U-21 boss felt the only option was to field an U-21 team.
“It is difficult because we also have quite a few lads tied to third level colleges and also because we are also getting ready for the North West U-21 Cup.
Donegal’s first game in the North West Cup, is next Tuesday, at home to Sligo, in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny, throw-in 2 pm, but they do not play again in the competition until after the Dr McKenna Cup.
“We are in a tough section in the McKenna Cup, but we will give it our best shot. Our main focus is on March 15th and the first round game in the U-21 championship, away to Tyrone.”
Donegal’s other games in the North West Cup are away to Derry and Mayo.