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MacNiallais set to continue exile from Donegal panel in 2020: reports

Donegal's Odhran MacNiallais (INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty)
Donegal's Odhran MacNiallais (INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty)

By Conor McKeon

ODHRÁN MacNiallais will not be returning to the Donegal senior panel for 2020.

The Gaoth Dobhair man played no part for Declan Bonner's team last year having opted out of the squad following his club's run to the All-Ireland semi-final.

It had, however, been widely expected that the 27-year-old would come back in for 2020 but local reports in Donegal suggest both Bonner and MacNiallais have confirmed there would be no immediate return.

One of the most influential players in Gaoth Dobhair's Ulster title success of 12 months ago, MacNiallais was also absent for Donegal in 2017, when he spent the summer in New York.

Last year, in his absence, Donegal retained their Ulster title this year but failed to progress from their Super 8s group for the second season in a row.

His return would have represented a significant boost for Bonner, who has a number of serious injuries to contend with for the early part of next season.

Oisín Gallen, the exciting Sean MacCumhaill's forward, underwent surgery on his shoulder before Christmas and is expected to miss most, if not all, of Donegal's forthcoming Division 1 League campaign.

Last month, midfielder Jason McGee travelled to Coventry to have an operation on his hip, with an expected rehabilitation time of up to six months.

Paddy McGrath meanwhile, is the throes of a comeback from the ACL injury he suffered in Donegal's championship exit to Mayo in Castlebar at the start of August while Eoghán Bán Gallagher is also on the mend from a broken ankle that cruelly ended his summer.

As yet, there has been no indication as to whether 2012 survivor Leo McLoone will commit to another season after he was part of Naomh Conaill's run to this year's Ulster final.

Donegal begin their 2020 campaign on Sunday in Ballybofey when they host Monaghan in the first round of the Dr McKenna Cup, where Bonner is expected to field an experimental line up.

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