DECLAN BONNER has counted up to 15 players that will form part of his championship panel who have yet to play for the county this season.
The Donegal manager was speaking in the wake of his team’s 1-17 to 0-10 win over Down at Pairc Esler in Newry – a result that puts them in pole position to qualify for the semi-finals of the Dr McKenna Cup with two wins from two, following Sunday last’s 0-21 to 0-11 victory over Queen’s University.
Today, Martin McElhinney was man of the match with four points from midfield, while Caolan McGonagle punched home the only goal of the contest with eight minutes to play in front of the 2,220 attendance.
“Yeah, it was the first Sunday in January and there was plenty to like about it but there is plenty of work to be done,” Bonner said of the 10-point win over Paddy Tally’s team.
“It’s a young side, Down and Paddy had a young side out too, both teams went at it in a positive manner. Paddy is only working with Down for a few months but from our point of view yeah there was plenty to like but plenty of work to do.”
They were minus the services of the likes of Michael Murphy, Frank McGlynn, Ryan McHugh, Mark McHugh, Paddy McGrath, Leo McLoone, as well as Eoghan Ban Gallagher, who is recovering from a groin complaint, and Patrick McBrearty, currently sidelined with a cruciate injury.
As well as that, with Gaoth Dobhair having won the Ulster Club SFC and preparing to take on Corofin of Galway in the All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final next month, players like Odhran MacNiallais, Neil McGee, Cian Mulligan, Daire O’Baoill and Michael Carroll have been excused.
It’s the same reason Stephen McMenamin is absent – his club Red Hugh’s will play their All-Ireland Club JFC semi-final against Easkey from Sligo in two weeks’ time.
“I was counting there are about 15 lads who will probably be involved come championship time who are not here today so it’s giving lads an opportunity,” Bonner added. “It gives you hope moving forward with these lads and they are a really committed bunch of lads.”
Donegal welcome Cavan – also with two wins from two – in their final Section A clash of the Dr McKenna Cup to Ballybofey on Wednesday night at 8pm, safe in the knowledge that their superior scoring average means a draw will certainly be enough to progress to the last four.