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Donegal out to put McKenna Cup behind them


Declan Bonner

Declan Bonner

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Declan Bonner

Donegal manager Declan Bonner has found himself making headlines for the wrong reasons recently and that is why he would be delighted to see his team shown in a much more positive light after tonight's opening Allianz Football League Division One encounter against Mayo at Ballybofey (7.15).

The furore which followed Donegal's decision not to fulfil their McKenna Cup semi-final against Monaghan because of drastically depleted playing resources caused hurt and embarrassment within the county but that could be quickly erased should the team come up trumps tonight.

Bonner may be missing a number of players but Hugh McFadden, Ciaran Thompson and Ryan McHugh are among those who can fire the side up.

Mayo manager James Horan includes four newcomers in his side for what is their first game in defence of the Allianz League title.

Horan is without some key players but the return of the powerful Tom Parsons to midfield after missing last year's action because of a serious leg injury is a major boost for the westerners.

Derry are ready to launch their bid for promotion from Division Three when they meet Leitrim this evening at Celtic Park (5.00).

New boss Rory Gallagher is aware that he faces a big challenge in trying to bring the Oak Leaf county into Division Two but a win today could provide the launch-pad for a prosperous league campaign.

Derry have had an undistinguished period of late in the league and only hauled themselves out of Division Four last year when Damian McErlain was in charge.

Gallagher has been burning the midnight oil in piecing together an Oak Leaf squad that looks capable of mounting a push for promotion although the presence of teams like Down and Tipperary will not make the pathway easy to emerge upwards from what is generally expected to be a hotly-contested Division Three.

Monaghan fell to Tyrone in the Dr McKenna Cup final last weekend and manager Seamus McEnaney views the loss of Colin Walsh to injury from that game as "a serious blow" ahead of tomorrow's game against Galway at Salthill.

With Corofin having won the All-Ireland club title for the third successive year, football fever has replaced hurling passion just now in Galway. New manager Padraic Joyce gave outstanding service to the county as a player and is determined to bring success in his role as team boss - starting tomorrow.

Down travel to Tipperary with a line-up that embraces youth and experience. Manager Paddy Tally will look to Darren O'Hagan, Conor Maginn, Pat Havern and Daniel Guinness to fire up his team. The Mourne side are particularly keen to emerge from Division Three and thus avoid Tier Two of the All-Ireland Championship.

Also tomorrow Antrim face a tricky home mission against Wexford at Glenavy (2.00).

Manager Lenny Harbinson has lost some key players lately but believes that the replacements who have come in are capable of getting the side off to a good start in the league.

Wexford are managed by former Kerry All-Ireland winner Paul Galvin who is set on bringing success to the county.

Belfast Telegraph