DONEGAL MANAGER RORY GALLAGHER has introduced 12 new players to his squad for 2016.
Here’s a run through a who’s who of the new faces to the panel:
Danny Rodgers (Dungloe)
AT 6’4”, the Dungloe man stands as an imposing presence in the goal. The agile Rodgers was on the 2014 and 2015 Donegal minor teams and was the first choice for the Under-21s this year. The renowned shot-stopper could be in for a big chance with Paul Durcan having emigrated to Dubai and Michael Boyle going under the knife for cruciate surgery.
Stephen McMenamin (Red Hughs)
WHEN McMenamin lined out for Donegal against Derry in a Buncrana Cup (Under-16) game in 2013, Declan Bonner thought so much of the Red Hughs defender that he said afterwards: ‘If one of those players is to go on to senior football, it’ll be Stephen McMenamin’.
Injury curtailed his involvement in 2014 and he only made his first Championship start that year in the All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin.
Played at full-back this year and it was he who took the fight to Derry in the Ulster semi-final when he moved out to centre-back. Donegal lost that game, but McMenamin impressed greatly. Can play anywhere in defence and is a top marker.
Kieran Gillespie (Gaoth Dobhair)
THAT he is even considered to be Neil McGee’s heir apparent shows just how highly Gillespie is rated.
Was brought into Donegal’s underage panels as a midfielder but, having been in and out of the Under-17 team, was put into full-back for the start of the 2014 minor campaign and he made the number 3 shirt his own.
Has had injury trouble, but has all the ingredients to succeed McGee in years to come.
Caolan Ward (St Eunan’s)
WAS ONE of the stand-out performers from the 2015 Donegal SFC.
A student at Carlow IT, Ward is a tough operator who has made a place in St Eunan’s first XV his own.
A powerful athlete, Ward is known for his versatility. Can often be seen popping up with vital moments at either end of the field.
Jack O’Brien (Naomh Muire)
A MAN-MARKING defender who was on the Donegal Under-21s this year, his consistent displays there and for his club, Naomh Muire, have been recognised by Gallagher in giving him the nod.
May be slight in stature, but the involvement with Donegal’s strength and conditioning coaches is sure to give him that extra edge.
Tony McClenaghan (Moville)
A CENTRE-BACK cut from the mould of Martin Gavigan, McClenaghan is a workhorse.
Strong on the ball, he holds possession well and one of his biggest strengths his in carrying the ball into opposition territory.
Made the step up to the Under-21s this year. Struggled in the midfield role there, but centre-back is the sentry at which he is at home.
Eoghan Ban Gallagher (Killybegs)
A SON of former Donegal player John Ban Gallagher, this stylish wing-back has been marked out for a senior breakthrough for some time now.
Was drafted in to train with the seniors this summer. Has struggled with hamstring injuries, but there is no doubting the ability of the 18-year-old from Killybegs.
Possesses good pace and a keen attacking side to his game. Almost feels like a perfect fit for Donegal’s half-back line.
Michael Carroll (Gaoth Dobhair)
A FIRST cousin of Danny Rodgers and younger brother of James Carroll, who was on the Ulster-winning Donegal Under-21 team in 2010.
Carroll was one of the youngest members of Declan Bonner’s history-making minor squad in 2014.
The leadership and all-round quality he possesses were recognised when Bonner handed him the captaincy of this year’s minors.
Had his name dragged through the mill following alleged incidents in the Ulster Minor Championship game against Tyrone in May.
The 6’3” midfielder is superb on the ball and has an archer’s eye for a score.
Ciaran Thompson (Naomh Conaill)
LAST year, Thompson wasn’t making it into the Naomh Conaill starting line-up, but was at midfield this year as the Glenties team won the Donegal SFC.
Thompson didn’t fulfil his underage promise, but in the last 12 months has really come to the fore.
Was taken into the senior set-up for training during the summer.
Has a cultured left foot and seems set to follow his brothers Anthony and Leon in wearing the senior Donegal jersey having been one of the mainstays of the Under-21s this year.
Caolan McGonigle (Buncrana)
WHEN the Buncrana man first wandered up to the Donegal Under-17 squad, he was better known as a goalkeeper, but was tried at midfield for a couple of challenge games and it is there that he is now at home.
In his second year at DCU, the hard-working McGonigle is a solid kicker of place balls and is a commanding presence in the air.
Stephen McBrearty (Kilcar)
BUT for two serious knee ligament injuries, he’d surely have been called into the senior squad this year. The younger brother of Patrick McBrearty, he’s got ability to burn.
Has come through successful underage teams at Kilcar and with Coláiste na Carraige and is regarded as one of the brightest underage talents in Donegal.
Last December, he attended an Australian Rules trial at DCU.
McBrearty has so many tricks in his locker and can play a range of positions, but is best suited to the half-forward line, where he can orchestrate and play at the same time.
Rory Carr (St Eunan’s)
STILL a student at St Eunan’s College and in his Leaving Cert year, Carr had some excellent performances for St Eunan’s on their road to the Donegal SFC final this year.
Not least were his superb exploits in their semi-final win over St Michael’s.
Has played at midfield in the past, but now features in the full-forward line. A son of former Donegal player Paul Carr, he’s a tall, rangy player whose another comfortable in the art of deadball kicking.Tags: