DECLAN Bonner feels that the GAA should have shown ‘more resistance’ to the revoking of elite status.
An exemption was in place towards the end of 2020, but in February that status was removed, delaying the start of the 2021 inter-county season.
The inability of county players to form bubbles was one of the reasons outlined.
The GAA’s response was largely muted and Bonner believes the Association missed a trick in how it dealt with the decision.
“I felt with the elite status the GAA should have put up more resistance to losing it to be quite honest,” Bonner said.
“That was disappointing. We came back last year and I felt the championship was well run and it was well organised and then all of a sudden we have been told that we have lost that elite status.
“League of Ireland soccer got back in three, four, five weeks ahead of us.
“I felt that there was no reason why we could not have got back in, I felt it was an opportunity.”
Donegal face old nemesis Tyrone at the weekend in their Allianz League opener.
The beaten Ulster finalists in 2020, Donegal have League meetings against three Ulster teams – Tyrone, Monaghan and Armagh – before they open their championship quest in June.
Bonner said: “You have Cavan who came out of last year’s Ulster campaign so it is very competitive, it is ‘the’ championship. Is it a level playing field? It probably is not, no. Definitely not.
“The Ulster championship is basically the only competitive championship. That is the reality.
“We have to go into a mini Ulster championship in the National League and then go straight into a championship series. There was no need for a knock-out championship.
“I thought this year was an ideal opportunity to go with an open draw championship, 32 teams, because there are going to be no gates.
“There is going to be no revenue coming in for any of the provincial councils so there was an opportunity to go the road of an open draw but that is gone and dusted.”
Bonner has welcomed Odhrán Mac Niallais back into his ranks, but the weekend’s game may come too soon for the Gaoth Dobhair ace, while Eamonn Doherty and Ciaran Diver have left the Donegal panel.