Brian McEniff . . . backing Declan Bonner
Brian McEniff, who along with Eddie Keher will be honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the fifth annual GPA Former Players event in Croke Park on Saturday, has given his backing for Declan Bonner to take the reins as the next Donegal boss and the 1992 All-Ireland-winning manager feels they are still "in a good place" despite a disastrous championship campaign this year
The Gaelic Players' Association event, which will be attended by over 500 guests this Saturday, will also see 10 teams honoured for their All-Ireland-winning success.
Speaking ahead of the event, the former Donegal manager feels Bonner is the man to take on the role of managing Donegal.
On the back of a harrowing Qualifier defeat to Galway, Rory Gallagher resigned his Donegal post and has since returned home to take the Fermanagh job with Bonner heading a trio of candidates vying to be his successor.
Tyrone native Cathal Corey and Donegal minor boss Shaun Paul Barrett are the other contenders but McEniff believes Bonner, who was previously in charge from 1998-2000, is the man to lead them forward.
"I'd go with Declan Bonner having been involved with the minors and the U-21s in recent years. A lot of those players are involved in the senior set-up now so you can see the reasoning behind him getting the job," McEniff said.
"Declan has the experience of working with them for the past few years and in 1998, he was barely retired from football when he managed the senior team and they were unlucky to be beaten by Derry in an Ulster final.
"I was hoping Rory would have stayed on for another year, if not two, but for whatever reason he stepped down. I thought he was going to take a break from it all together but when your home county comes looking for you, it's hard to refuse that."
Marquee players like Colm McFadden, Karl Lacey and Eamon McGee have hung up their inter-county boots but McEniff, who will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award at Saturday's GPA Former Players Event, holds no fears for the future.
"Donegal are in a good place with three different squads of players. There's the squad that went to an All-Ireland final three years ago and the squad that won the Ulster U-21 this year, many of whom were involved during the league and helped retain Division 1 status.
"Then there's the minors that won Ulster last year. What's good about the younger lads is that they're sizeable players, they're not small and their best hasn't been seen. They're going to get better but Donegal will have to be patient for a year or two."
McEniff, who served as senior manager on four different occasions, feels the new regime will have to blend youth and experience while he insists the return of players like Odhrán MacNiallais and Leo McLoone is essential to their progression.
"What we missed a lot this year was experience. We need some of those lads in their mid to late 20s that have that savvy and could add the physical element to the side. It's a matter of mix and match for a couple of years until the young lads get up to speed."