ALLIANZ NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Donegal's National League opponents - the facts and figures

Tom Comack

Reporter:

Tom Comack

Donegal's National League opponents - the facts and figures

Patrick McBrearty and Tyrone's Darren McCurry at the Allianz League launch in Belfast

Donegal's National League fixtures begin this Sunday at home to Kerry in Letterkenny. The other opponents they meet are Roscommon (away), Dublin (home), Cavan (away), Tyrone (home), Monaghan (home) and Mayo (away) in that order.

Read on to get rundown on Donegal's opponents . . . 

Kerry
Kerry, runners up to Dublin last year, won the last of their 19 league titles in 2009.
They haven’t traditionally put an awful lot of emphasis on the league.
And they are often easy pickings in the early games.
Marc O Se and Aidan O’Mahony are the players that are gone from last year’s squad. Kerry defeated Donegal 1-13 to 1-8 in Tralee.
But double All-Star and 2015 Footballer of the Year, James O’Donoghue, is back from injury. He was reported to be flying in the McGrath Cup.
Shane Ryan, Jason Foley, Jack Barry, Tom O’Sullivan from recent All-Ireland minor winning teams are in the squad.
These along with Jack Savage, the Munster minor footballer of the Year in 2010, are all the talk in Kerry.
League titles: 19 (Division One, last 2009)
Manager: Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Last season: Beaten finalists

Roscommon
Roscommon were one of the form teams in Division One last season.
The won four of the seven games including wins over Donegal, Kerry, Cork and Down. They defeated Donegal by five points (1-19 to 0-17) in a breathtaking performance in O’Donnell Park.
Kevin McStay, who was joint manager with Fergal O’Donnell, was appointed sole manager following O’Donnell’s departure. Niall Carty, Senan Kilbride, Geoffrey Clafferty have retired while former captain Cathal Cregg, Donal Shine, James McDermott, David Keenan and Sean Purcell are no longer in the squad.
They have four away games and three at home. The home games are against Donegal, Kerry and Cavan and they are going to have to win all three if they are to retain their status.
League titles: 1 (1978-’79)
Manager: Kevin McStay (First season after being joint manager with Fergal O’Donnell, last season)
Last season: Third and beaten semi-finalists

Dublin
Dublin, the reigning champions, are bidding for a fifth league title this season.
The champions take an incredible 15 game unbeaten run into the 2017 campaign. Cork in March of 2015 was the last team to inflict defeat on Jim Gavin’s charges.
Donegal, for the record, in the 2014 All-Ireland championship quarter-final, were the last team to beat them in championship.
And with a third string Dublin defeated Louth on Sunday to take the O’Byrne Cup. With 2015 Footballer of the year, Jack McCaffrey, back, they will be the team to beat once again.
They have four away games beginning with Cavan on Sunday.
Their other away games are against Donegal, Kerry and Monaghan.
League titles: 12
Manager: Jim Gavin (sixth season)
Last season: Champions and unbeaten in their nine games.

Tyrone
Tyrone went unbeaten through Division Two last season with five wins and two draws before defeating Cavan in the final.
They won a sixth Dr McKenna Cup with a comfortable final win over a weakened Derry on Saturday night.
This year’s squad is much the same as last year with the county’s most decorated footballer, Sean Cavanagh, back for a 16th season.
Cavanagh, his brother Colm, Mattie Donnelly, Peter Harte, Justin McMahon, Ronan O’Neill are the mainstays once again.
Conor McAliskey, who suffered a cruciate injury in the opening game of the Dr McKenna Cup against Cavan, is out for the season and is the only major absentee from 2016.
Tyrone have four home games with three tough assignments away to Dublin, Donegal and Kerry.
League titles: 2 (last 2003)
Manager: Mickey Harte (15th season)
Last season: Topped Division Two and won Division Two title.

Cavan
Cavan are back in Division One for the first time in 15 years after finishing runners-up to Tyrone in last season’s Division Two. They lost the Division Two League final to Tyrone.
It has been a long hard road back to the top for the Breffni County.
Former Tyrone player Mattie McGleenan has taken over from Terry Hyland, who guided his native county back to the top tier.
Hyland also managed Cavan to four Ulster U-21 titles in-a-row in recent years.
Seanie Johnston, Ray Dunne, Padraig Faulkner, Martin Reilly, Gerard McKiernan and Thomas Corr are all key men.
They have three home games - Dublin, Donegal and Kerry - and four away, two of them Ulster derbies - Monaghan and Tyrone.
League titles: 1 (1947’48)
Manager: Mattie McGleenan (first season)
Last season: Second in Division Two and beaten Division Two finalists.

Monaghan
Monaghan survived in Division One last season by the skin of their teeth. It took a last gasp point against Donegal from corner-back Colin Walshe to earn them the two points required for the Farney men to retain their status, on the very last day of the league.
Dick Clerkin and Paul Finlay have since retired but otherwise the Monaghan squad is along similar lines to the last season.
Vinny Corey is out injured and is expected to miss the opening games.
Conor McCarthy, Shane Carey, Thomas Kerr and Owen Coyle are the young players that Monaghan followers are hoping will make their mark.
Monaghan have three home games - Cavan, Dublin, and Roscommon - and have four away games to Mayo, Kerry, Tyrone and Donegal.
League titles: 1 (1984-’85)
Manager: Malachy O’Rourke (fifth season)
Last season: Sixth

Mayo
Mayo won the last of their 11 league titles in 2001 and there is a growing feeling in the county that Stephen Rochford should target a league title in 2017.
They have four home games - Monaghan, Roscommon, Cavan and Donegal - sides they would feel they are capable of beating.
And with a good gap between the league final and the championship, the feeling is there is no reason they should not target winning the league.
Whether Stephen Rochford is thinking along the same lines remains to be seen.
Stephen Rochford will be without Aidan and Seamus O’Se and All-Star Brendan Harrison for the opening games.
All three are on the treatment table while defender Lee Keegan is looking forward to an AIB Intermediate Club Championship final with Westport and will miss the opening two games of the campaign.
Danny Kirby and Liam Irwin are two young players to look out for in 2017.
League titles: 11 (last in 2000-2001)
Manager: Stephen Rochford (second season at the helm)
Last season: Fifth, pipped by Donegal on score average for a place in the semi-final the last time out.