Almost 60 per cent of Donegal’s GAA clubs will be under new management for the 2019 season.
The first full round of action in the All-County Football Leagues takes place this weekend.
Some 23 of the 39 football clubs in Donegal will have new managers for this campaign, including four in Division 1: Bundoran (Niall Dunne), Glenswilly (Ryan McKinley), St Eunan’s (Richard Thornton) and St Michael’s (Gary O’Neill).
Naomh Conaill manager Martin Regan is the longest serving club manager as he enters a fifth successive year in the hotseat at Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
Milford chief Danny O’Donnell, who is in year four, is the next in line, while five managers are in place for a third year.
WHO’S MANAGING WHO?
Niall Dunne has been chosen to look after the fortunes of Realt na Mara in 2019. Dunne takes over the reigns from Francie Martin, who vacated the role after taking Bundoran back into Division 1.
Michael Lynch remains the manager at Pairc Naomh Fionnan. While coach Francie Friel has moved on, Lynch will oversee another year at the helm of the Falcarragh club. This will be his third season in the job.
There are many around Magheragallon still pinching themselves from the run to Donegal and Ulster titles in 2018. Mervyn O’Donnell guided Gaoth Dobhair to glory last year and is back, with Michael Boyle again in row. O’Donnell will be in his third year as manager.
Beaten semi-finalists in the Donegal SFC last year, the three-time Dr Maguire winners can still call on many previous champions – including Michael Murphy. This year, Ryan McKinley, who had great success with his home club, Naomh Colmcille, has been appointed at Pairc Naomh Columba.
Barry Doherty will have a third year as Kilcar’s manager. Doherty was manager when Kilcar won the Donegal SFC in 2017, having taken over as a late replacement for Martin McHugh. Was down the injured Patrick McBrearty and Ryan McHugh for last year’s Championship assault, but Doherty is back for another go.
Danny O’Donnell goes into his fourth year as Milford manager. O’Donnell, who had a previous successful spell at his native Naomh Muire, has led Milford to the top tier and won an Intermediate title two years ago. Last year, kept Milford in Division 1.
Martin Regan is the longest serving manager in Donegal. This will be Regan’s fifth year to manage Naomh Conaill, who have lost each of the last two Donegal SFC finals. Regan was in charge for Naomh Conaill’s Championship win in 2015 and has been in charge since.
Bernard McGeehan has led Sean MacCumhaills to Division 1 and will play their first game in the top flight game since 2003 this weekend. McGeehan won promotion last year and took the Finnsiders to the SFC semi-finals. 2019 will be his second year in the role.
It’s a changed guard once again for St Eunan’s. Richard Thornton, part of Maxi Curran’s backroom team in 2018, takes up the mantel in 2019. Thornton, who coached Donegal during Rory Gallagher’s term as manager, hails from Coalisland.
Tyrone man Gary O’Neill takes charge at St Michael’s. A brother of former Tyrone star Stephen, Gary previously managed in Tyrone and takes over from Michael Kelly at The Bridge.
James O’Donnell stepped down from the Aodh Ruadh post after two years in charge. Last season, he took Aodh Ruadh to the IFC final, but they lost out to Glenfin. This year, Barry Ward and Philip O’Reilly are at the helm.
Adrian Brennan goes into his third year of what is his second spell as Ardara’s manager. Brennan helped steady the ship somewhat and will be aiming to push on in 2019.
Malachy McCann again heads up the Buncrana charge. It will be his second year of this spell as manager at the Scarvey. While they were promoted to Division 2 of the League, Buncrana were relegated to the Junior Championship. Derry native Emmet Thompson is McCann’s trainer for 2019.
Francie Martin has checked in at Dungloe for 2019. Martin has moved to Dungloe after two years at Bundoran. Previously, he has managed Glenswilly, Glenfin and Naomh Colmcille and will hope to make inroads
A new man in the dugout at Tir Chonaill Park as Ian McKenna takes on the Four Masters job. McKenna hails from County Monaghan and has been with the Four Masters club at underage level. McKenna takes over from Kevin Lyons.
Glenfin make their return to the ranks of the Donegal SFC in 2019. Liam Breen was in charge for last year’s Intermediate final win over Aodh Ruadh, but Mark McGinty senior is the man calling the shots at Pairc Taobhoige this year.
Killybegs, last year’s winners of Division 3, will hope the experience of Hugh McFadden and Eoghan Ban Gallagher can aid their charge in 2019. 1992 All-Ireland winner John Cunningham is manager again, his second year at the controls.
Pauric O’Donnell, a former Naomh Columba goalkeeper, takes on his first senior job. O’Donnel has been heavily involved managing and coaching at schools level, but has stepped up to lead his native Naomh Columba. O’Donnell succeeds Paddy J McGinley in the Glen hotseat.
Barry Meehan has remained on at St Naul’s for 2019, but will be in sole charge this time around. Last year, Meehan was joint manager with Eddie Brennan. However, Brennan has moved on with Meehan staying put.
Paddy McDaid stepped into the void left by Sean Paul Barrett’s departure during Termon’s SFC campaign in 2019. McDaid has taken on the role of manager for 2019 at the Burn Road, having preserved their senior status.
Following relegation from the senior championship in 2018, Burt are once more back at the intermediate grade. And there is a change of manager at Hibernian Park, where Stephen Davenport from nearby Newtown replaces Manus MacGabhann.
Downings had a superb 2018, winning the All-Ireland Junior Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta title on home soil, while they climbed into Division 3 having won Division 4. Kevin ‘Cookie’ Gallagher, after spells at Gaeil Fhánada and Four Masters, will manage his home club after taking over from Micheál Bradley.
Aidan McAteer returns for a second year in charge of Gaeil Fhánada, who will be bidding to make a mark in Division 3 and in the Intermediate Championship.
Robert Farren is in charge of his native Malin, who were relegated to Division 3 last year. Farren worked under Declan Bonner during his stint at underage level with Donegal. Farren, who will be aided by Shane McCarron, has taken over from Terence Colhoun.
Matt Gallagher, Donegal’s 1992 All-Ireland winning full-back, is the new manager at Trummon. Gallagher succeeds Dougie Corbett, who has gone on to manage Division 3 rivals Naomh Colmcille.
Dougie Corbett, a coach when Naomh Colmcille reached the Intermediate Championship final in 2015, returns to the club as manager this year. Corbett was in charge of Naomh Brid last year, but is back at Naomh Colmcille for 2019. Dean McBrearty, who managed Robert Emmets last year, is his number 2.
Gavin Ward from nearby Dungloe is the new man in charge at Naomh Muire this year. Ward was a member of Jim McGuinness’s backroom team when Donegal won the All-Ireland in 2012. Ward, a former player with Dungloe, is in senior management for the first time.
Martin Shovlin and Liam Kennedy will guide the Dunkineely club’s fortunes in 2019.
Shovlin, a 1992 All-Ireland winner with Donegal, joins up with Kennedy, who was part of a three-man management team last year, alongside Luke Keaney and Paul Byrne.
Red Hughs, the 2018 Donegal and Ulster Junior Champions, have yet to confirm their management team. In the last week or so it was confirmed that Seosamh Mac Ceallabhuí had vacated the role and the Monellan outfit have not confirmed a replacement candidate.
St Mary’s, Convoy
Laurence McMullan has been retained in Convoy. McMullan was first appointed to the manager’s role for the 2017 season. A former backroom team member with Jim McGuinness and the Donegal U21s, McMullan is entering his third season in the job.
Paddy McLaughlin takes charge of Carndonagh this season and will look to spearhead a challenge in Division 4 and the Junior Championship. McLaughlin has recruited Con McLaughlin to assist with training in 2019.
Sean McBrearty has returned to take over at Letterkenny Gaels this year. McBrearty, whose previous stint ended in 2017, will be aided by John McDermott and Tommy Daly.
Sean O’Hare is looking after matters in Moville this year. There are optimistic notes being struck with the likes of Ciarán Diver, who is on the Donegal senior panel, to call on. O’Hare has Anthony Doogan and Chris Carr on his management team.
Na Rossa have started playing in their new facility at Madavagh, with the club’s underage players having already lined out in their new home. Donal Trimble is the new Bainisteoir of the club’s seniors.
Naomh Padraig, Lifford
Sean McConnell is back at the Roughan for another stint. Naomh Padraig had a difficult year in 2018 and changed managers during the campaign, with Paul Melaugh taking over from Donal Grant. Now, McConnell is back in situ, having previously taken them to a Junior A final and winning promotion to Division 3.
Naomh Padraig, Muff
Billy Costello had been rumoured to be considering his future at Ture, but the Kerry native is back in situ and insists he was never going anywhere. Costello will be at the helm for a second year.
Conor Daly helped to end a 65-year wait for senior success at Pettigo in 2018. Daly guided Pettigo to glory in the Junior B Championship – their first adult title since the 1953 Junior Championship. Daly is in place again for what will be his second year as boss.
It has been a winter of change in Castlefin. Aaron McDaid and Colm Gallagher, two long-standing Robert Emmets clubmen, have been appointed as managers this year. They take the baton from Dean McBrearty, who is aiding Dougie Corbett at Naomh Colmcille.
Sean Paul Doherty took Urris to the Junior Championship final in 2018. They lost out to Red Hughs, but the seeds have been sewn and Doherty is back for another go and will hope to deliver some success to Straid this season.