Mark Anthony McGinley return a boost for Donegal
Donegal goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley is back training with Donegal for the first time in six weeks as Declan Bonner prepares for a tough challenge against neighbours Tyrone in Omagh on Saturday night.
Number one keeper McGinley was forced out through injury during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup and Peter Boyle then started in the first three NFL games.
Boyle quit the panel after the match against Kildare in Ballyshannon after former Sligo Rovers ’keeper Shaun Patton replaced him for that match.
Boyle’s departure was swiftly followed this week by 21-year-old Gaoth Dobhair star Michael Carroll.
This means that three players have now left the panel since Eoin McHugh pulled out in January stating that he wanted to concentrate on his studies.
But manager Bonner dismissed reports that former minor and U21 keeper Danny Rodgers from Dungloe was being drafted into the squad.
“Mark Anthony McGinley is now back training and at present we are going with two ’keepers and that’s the way it is,” Bonner (right) said.
“Mark Anthony was out for a few weeks so it is good to see him back.”
But a major question mark still hangs over promising defender Cilian Morrison, who has damaged ligaments in his leg.
Morrison played a blinder in the Dr McKenna Cup final the last time these sides clashed.
“We won’t know for sure about Cilian until later in the week but it is looking fairly serious,” Bonner added.
Otherwise, the Donegal boss has a fairly fit squad to pick from, with Gaoth Dobhair star Cian Mulligan also coming back to fitness.
Meanwhile, Donegal’s 1992 All-Ireland hero Manus Boyle says Donegal defenders will have to defend a bit more if they are to stop Tyrone inflicting a defeat on Tir Chonaill.
Boyle does not agree with the theory that Donegal will have to revert to a sweeper system after Kildare scored three goals and could quite easily have scored three more in last week’s somewhat lucky win over the 14-man Lilywhites.
It was Donegal’s worst display but they still came out with two points.
“I am not sure if he needs to have a sweeper,” Boyle said.
“I think defenders need to defend and attackers attack and it is strange to see a situation where a corner-forward is passing back to a corner-back to take a shot.
“That is not on for me.
“You are either one or the other, you are not both.
“I think that there has to be an emphasis where at least four or five of the team stay at home in defence.
“It is all right for the Dublins and Mayos and Galway seem to have a very good balance where they are able to leave four or five to sit back when they are attacking.
“But, Tyrone are a team that can move the ball very quickly when they need to and can score goals as well.
“So I have no doubt but that Declan and his management team will have been working on plugging those gaps ahead of Saturday night.”
But the man who scored 0-9 in the All-Ireland final victory of 1992 is adamant it is important that Donegal keep their Division One status.
“Yes that would be important as going down to Division Two would create a lot of problems for us,” he said.
“It would be a big financial hit and we would not have the same resources to put back into the senior team and the U20 team would also be affected.
“That would be a goal for us and it would also be good to qualify for the Super 8.
“If that can be achieved it would represent a good season and we are capable of doing that and also of having a decent run in the Ulster Championship.
Reviewing the season so far, Boyle said it was still a time of transition.
“It will take time for players to adapt to a new system of play under Declan Bonner.
“He has changed the more defensive style that he had with the U21s and the question now is getting the balance right between attack and defence.
“You need to narrow your defence when you are under attack.
“I am sure that those things are getting in place and the fact that Michael Murphy came back against Kildare is another massive boost coming up to Tyrone on Saturday night.
“Frank McGlynn and Neil McGee being back will also be a big help to everyone around them.
“But Hugh McFadden, Caolan Ward, Ryan McHugh, Stephen McBrearty and Ryan McHugh are all playing well and it is good to see Leo McLoone and Odhran MacNiallais back.
“Overall we lost two matches by a point but the Galway game was the most disappointing”.