DONEGAL are expected to show only minimal changes tonight as Declan Bonner’s men look for a Dr McKenna Cup semi-final spot.
Donegal come up against Derry – managed by former Donegal boss Rory Gallagher – at Celtic Park tonight. Avoiding defeat is the aim for Donegal, who are bidding to secure a spot in the weekend’s semi-final.
A relatively strong Donegal – including five starters from last autumn’s Super 8 loss to Mayo in Castlebar – defeated Monaghan 1-12 to 0-14 on Sunday at Sean MacCumhaill Park in their 2020 opener.
Newcomers Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí and Daniel Clarke performed admirably while Andrew McClean and Ethan O’Donnell could be satisfied with their outings off the bench.
Those players and others, like St Eunan’s duo Aaron Deeney and Conor Parke, Naomh Ultan man Daniel Gallagher, Moville’s Ciaran Diver and replacement goalkeeper Michael Lynch of Naomh Colmcille are among those who could feature tonight.
Squad returnees Michael Carroll, Tony McClenaghan, Conor Morrison and Cian Mulligan are also vying for places.
“We want to go there and win,” Bonner said. “Every team wants to win.
“We’ll be going to try to get a performance and a victory at Celtic Park. We’ll see how the boys are.”
A bout of flu took hold of the Donegal squad and has ruled Hugh McFadden, Eamonn Doherty, Odhrán McFadden-Ferry and Niall O’Donnell out of contention.
Bonner said: “In terms of numbers, it will be difficult. We have lads coming back from knocks and injury and a bad flu’ has ruled out a few.”
New Derry boss Gallagher, appointed to the Sperrins after stepping down as Fermanagh manager, has made four changes to his selection for tonight with Odhran Lynch, Conor Doherty, Carlus McWilliams and Niall Toner all named to start.
An injury-time penalty save by goalkeeper Shaun Patton gave Donegal the edge against Monaghan with Peadar Mogan bagging a second-half goal. Derry lost in their opener to Monaghan meaning the Oak Leaf are in must-win territory tonight.
“It was very important for the group,” Bonner said of Sunday’s win.
“We had opportunities in the second half to go out of sight. We had two goal opportunities that we didn’t take. All of a sudden, we were on the back foot and Shaun Patton had to make a late penalty save.
“Overall, on the balance of play, I felt that we deserved it.”Tags: