GAA Football

Monaghan urges Donegal's young guns to stake their claim

Caolan McColgan was given a first senior start for Donegal in their opening Dr McKenna Cup match with Down

Donegal’s young guns will never get a better chance of staking a claim to more permanent places than in the Dr McKenna Cup.

That is the firm message from ex-Donegal great Barry Monaghan as they take on Antrim in Portglenone tomorrow.

Declan Bonner gave first starts to Shane O’Donnell, Charles McGuinness, Caolan McColgan, Odhran Doherty, Jamie Grant, Rory O’Donnell, Mark Curran and Ryan McFadden as they edged out a gritty Down side last Friday.

“It is a great opportunity for young lad to make an impression”, said Monaghan.

He made the call as Declan Bonner prepared to welcome back a bit more experience in the shape of Jamie Brennan, Paul Brennan and Jason McGee.

Young Jamie Grant, who made his debut is out injured while Oisin Gallen and Stephen McMenamin are still getting treatment for injuries.

“The Dr McKenna Cup has its critics, but it is a very worthwhile competition and is even more important these day as it helps lift the mood of the whole country," Monaghan added.

“But it is a more forgiving competition than the NFL and the Championship and presents an ideal chance for these young lads to make their mark.

"And it is heartening that Declan has given chances to so many young players as was apparent against Down and it was a pretty good competitive match and a good opener.

“But it is great generally for people to get out and about when we have so much of this Covid about."

Donegal begin their Allianz Division One campaign against Mayo on January 30 and Monaghan feels that the experience of competitive games in the McKenna Cup are ideal preparation for what promises to be a tough top flight campaign.

“The Dr McKenna Cup is a secondary competition, but it serves and has served a very good purpose for Donegal and many other counties," he said.

“Declan has brought in quite a number of new players and on the other hand there may be more senior players who may be carrying knocks and may want to ease their way back

“All teams are doing a lot or physical conditioning and training but there is nothing players like better than playing matches and this competition gives them a chance to develop their ball handling skills after a long lay-off. Competitive matches are always much better than challenge matches.

“Personally, I am really looking forward to the start of the GAA season.

“And it will be only a few weeks before we take on Mayo so that is something else to be looking forward to as well.

“But these are the days when the young lads can really make their mark and it is great that we have so many coming forward."

He added: Our opponents Antrim had a good win over Down and will be no pushover in Portglenone so it could be a very useful test for us".

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GAA Football