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Donegal chief denies team rift

An English-based benefactor picked up the tab for an overnight stay by the Donegal squad and management in the Slieve Russell Hotel on Saturday night after the county board declined to foot the bill.

Donegal chairman PJ McGowan confirmed that a third party had paid for the pre-match accommodation but said it had not caused a rift between the board and team management, who had already been at odds some weeks earlier over the scheduling of club fixtures after the semi-final win over Tyrone.

Leo McLoone picked up a serious facial injury in one of those games that ruled him out of the Ulster final victory over Derry.

Donegal's team management had sought the pre-match stay in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell for the semi-final because players had complained of fatigue when they had travelled to Kingspan Breffni Park to play Cavan in their previous match.

The request for the initial stay in the luxury hotel was granted by the board, but when it was made again for the Derry game the board told the management they weren't in a position to fund it.

“Financially we just wouldn't be able to meet the request, but at that point someone else stepped in,” said McGowan yesterday. “There is no rift, there is nothing like that over it. Everyone is just happy that we are Ulster champions after 19 years again.

Donegal teams wouldn't normally stay overnight when travelling to Clones so this was a new departure undertaken by boss Jim McGuinness.

For the likes of Ryan Bradley, coming from Buncrana on the morning of a match to Clones via a meeting point in Donegal town could amount to more than a three-hour journey.

Others in the north west of the county faced a similarly arduous journey.

The squad met in Letterkenny yesterday for a pool session and a look at a DVD of the match before returning to their clubs last night for further celebrations. But they will return to training tonight ahead of next week's All-Ireland quarter-final.

Belfast Telegraph