Donegal manager Declan Bonner content to work with the players he has got

Donegal manager Declan Bonner says that some of more experienced players won't return to action until the latter stages of their Division Two campaign.
Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
By Gerry McLaughlin

DONEGAL will still be missing the Gaoth Dobhair contingent for Sunday’s crunch Allianz Football League Division Two clash with Fermanagh, manager Declan Bonner confirmed yesterday.

And there will be no return, as yet, for the vastly experienced trio of Paddy McGrath, Michael Murphy and Frank McGlynn against a Fermanagh side who are joint top of the table alongside Meath and Donegal.

Bonner revealed that he has planned with the same squad that slipped up in Tipperary 11 days ago, but hinted that there would be changes to the starting line-up.

Better news for Bonner is that he hopes to have the outstanding Odhran Mac Niallais back for the Championship.

The Donegal boss revealed that he met with the midfielder a few weeks ago and it was always “the plan that he was going to take a few weeks out after Gaoth Dobhair’s campaign ended”.

“He was very close to the late Micheal Roarty and he has got to be given time now.

“I will expect to see him back, but not in the next few weeks,’’ added Bonner.

On the other Gaoth Dobhair players, Bonner said: “They are getting a week off, but they will be back training from next week.”

When asked when they might be back playing for the county, he said:

“It is very difficult to step in, even though you are playing at a high level at club activity and it is a big step to county.

“So it will probably take them a couple of weeks to get back into things. We will see how they go.”

It could still be a few weeks before the vastly experienced McGrath, Murphy and McGlynn are back, but a defeat to Fermanagh could hasten their return.

“Paddy McGrath may not be there yet, and Michael Murphy and Frank McGlynn are not quite ready yet.

“They will be in before the end of the League.’’

Bonner described Sunday’s match as a “local derby” and “dress rehearsal” for the Championship clash in May, but added that it does not alter his side’s focus for Sunday.

“We are taking every game, as it comes. We are disappointed that we did not win in Tipperary.

“We contributed to our own defeat down there and we will be looking to rectify that on Sunday.

“It is not going to be easy, Fermanagh have done well, and they are going to be difficult to break down.”

He added: “We coughed up three soft goals in Tipperary and you would not want to see it happen too often as we had gone six games and conceded only one goal between the Dr McKenna Cup and the start of the League. We were punished for that”.

Even though Fermanagh have a more experienced team, Bonner said he was not in a position to fight fire with fire by throwing on his experienced men.

“We have what we have and any player we put on has to be right and ready to play.

“We can only pick players, that are fit, that are training and that are ready to go.

“It is still going to be a young team on Sunday, but I am not going to use that as an excuse.”

Versatile veteran Leo McLoone will probably feature at some stage for Tir Chonaill, in what will be his 100th appearance.

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