Goalkeeper Paul Durcan is set to take Donegal hiatus
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher will not be counting on two-time All-Star goalkeeper Paul Durcan as he makes plans for the 2016 National League.
The former Four Masters man, who has been domiciled in Dublin for the last number of years and transferred to Ballyboden St Enda's, is moving to Qatar along with his wife, who is taking up a teaching contract.
Gallagher, however, has revealed that while Durcan will play no part in the National League, there is a possibility that he could return in time for the 2016 Ulster Championship.
"It's something we have been aware of," Gallagher told the Belfast Telegraph. "He is going for the foreseeable future but he hasn't ruled out the possibility that he might be back in time to play next year. He has left that open.
"His wife is starting a job out there. Most people only stay for a year and he is not intending to be out there long-term. It's very much undecided and we haven't spoken at the end of the year, but he wasn't ruling out being back in time for the start of next year's Championship."
With goalkeepers now a much more essential part of modern-day Gaelic football, Donegal will be hurt by the loss of Durcan, an All-Star in 2012 and 2014.
His kick-outs have been a major part of Donegal's possession-based game, with many rating him as highly as Dublin's Stephen Cluxton in that regard.
Working with former Finn Harps goalkeeper James Gallagher in the set-up this year, Durcan's form showed that the lapse in concentration that gifted a kick-out to Kieran Donaghy and led to a goal for the Kerry man in last year's All-Ireland final, did not derail his form.
Gallagher believes that Durcan is in the running for a third All-Star when the committee make their deliberations in November.
"I believe he is playing better than ever," said Gallagher.
"He made a number of strong saves, his kick-outs are top class, he can execute any short balls. His handling is also top class, he didn't drop one all year.
"It depends on how the next couple of games go, but he knows how valuable he is to us and how highly we rate him."
A number of other Donegal players have made comments to the effect that this might have been their last year, such as Eamon McGee and Christy Toye, but Gallagher insists he will be letting players get on with club commitments before making any approaches about the future.
The Belleek man added: "There will be no conversations yet. Everybody has an idea where they stand but it will be a month before we talk to anybody. Every player is always sore when the season ends. But we have a good idea with most people."