I know we say it every year, but let me reiterate it once again, the New Year, 2017, is a big year for Donegal football.
Not for a long time has it been so true. The county senior team is in transition and we need to introduce new blood in 2017. How we manage that will have a big bearing on our standing and where we are going in the future.
We have won two Ulster Minor Championships in the last three seasons and we have not been far away at U-21 level either, over the last few years as well.
We have an abundance of good young footballers coming up through.
These players now need to be integrated into the senior squad. I was delighted to read in the Democrat on Thursday that 14 of the coming season’s U-21 squad are all in training with the seniors.
These players must now be given a chance in the Dr McKenna Cup and in the Allianz League.
I think that’s something that came back to bite us last year in the latter stages of the championship.
This is why Rory Gallagher and Declan Bonner, the U-21 manager, need to work well together.
It is vital that they do so in the interest of the county going forward.
On the face of it, the idea of playing the U-21s, and only the U-21s, in the Dr McKenna Cup, is understandable, but I’m not sure it is such a good idea.
There is merit in giving as many of the U-21s as possible game time, but I’m totally against the idea of only playing U-21s.
The likes of Caolan Ward, Paul Brennan from my own club here in Bundoran, and Conor Gibbons from St Eunan’s, two of the new faces in the squad, need game time if they are to have a chance of making an impression in the National League.
But so do Neil McGee, Anthony Thompson, Frank McGlynn, Mark McHugh and even big Neil Gallagher - all players who are not in college, and who also need game time to prepare them for the league.
Finally, I was very disappointed to see that Leo McLoone had quit the county panel. Leo is only 27 and still has another good four or five years in him.
Let’s hope after a wee break he will be back.
Leo is one of those players we should be looking towards to lead us through our current transition period.
He is too good a footballer to lose.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.