RORY GALLAGHER, THE DONEGAL MANAGER, has confirmed that he will rotate his goalkeepers during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup campaign.
Mark Anthony McGinley and Danny Rodgers will be alternated in the games against Down, St Mary’s College and Fermanagh.
Double All-Star Paul Durcan’s relocation to Qatar means that he is unavailable in the short-term and a cruciate ligament injury prevents Michael Boyle from stepping in.
“Danny and Mark Anthony will be played game-by-game in the group stage of the McKenna Cup and we’ve been doing that with them in the challenge games so far,” Gallagher told Donegal Sport Hub.
“Mark Anthony was in last year and he did very well with us, but we had ‘Papa’ (Durcan) and Michael in there.
“Danny has come in recently and has applied himself well so we’ll see how they both go in the McKenna Cup.”
Neither player has featured at senior level for Donegal. McGinley had been foraging a soccer career in the League of Ireland with UCD before returning to play with his native St Michael’s and was called up by Gallagher as a back-up goalkeeper last year.
Dungloe’s Rodgers was a member of the Donegal minor team in 2014 and 2015 and was the ‘keeper for the Under-21s in 2015.
Rodgers is one of 12 new faces on the squad heading into the New Year.
Rory Carr won’t feature owing to the shoulder injury picked up on club duty last weekend while Caolan McGonigle will play in the O’Byrne Cup for DCU.
However, Stephen McBrearty, Michael Carroll, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Ciaran Thompson, Kieran Gillespie, Tony McClenaghan, Caolan Ward, Stephen McMenamin and Jack O’Brien are all in line for senior debuts in January.
“My intention is to put in a lot of new blood,” Gallagher said.
“They will get game time, but we want to put them in with players who have been around the panel for a few years now.
“The dynamic is difference because we went out of the Championship in August and the boys are back really fresh and you can see the hunger is there.”
Ryan McHugh and Patrick McBrearty will be lining out for Ulster University Jordanstown in January while six player – Eamon McGee, Karl Lacey, Neil Gallagher, Colm McFadden, Christy Toye and David Walsh – won’t return to the fold until the Allianz League.
The remainder of his experienced artillery will be at his disposal, although Martin McElhinney and Anthony Thompson – who are recovering from injuries – are unlikely to feature on Sunday against Down.
The manager said he has been ‘really pleased’ with how his squad has come back to action.
He said: “The experienced players are very much energised. They were very disappointed with how last year panned out but the batteries are recharged and their desire is back as big as ever.
“We’re also delighted with the lads we’ve brought in; really pleased with them because they’ve also brought great energy.”
Donegal play Down at Sean MacCumhaill Park on Sunday at 2pm.