THERE’S BEEN A change in the landscape in terms of the goalkeeping position at the Donegal seniors.
Under the management of Jim McGuinness, Paul Durcan missed just one match in league or championship between 2011 and 2014.
However, last year Michael Boyle featured in the Allianz League and was knocking on the door by the time the Ulster SFC got underway. Durcan held onto the jersey but this year Rory Gallagher, the Donegal manager, has plenty to think about. Here’s five who might keep goal for Donegal over the course of 2016.
TWO-TIME ALL-STAR Paul Durcan has moved to Qatar with his wife Edel. Having joined Ballyboden St Enda’s from his local side in Donegal town last year, Four Masters, Durcan took his adopted club to both the Dublin and Leinster SFC titles – jetting in from Doha to do so. Clonmel Commercials, managed by Charlie McGeever, are Ballyboden’s opponents in the AIB All-Ireland club championship semi-finals next month.
By and large, 31-year-old Durcan has been the Donegal No1 since 2004, although Michael Boyle has claimed the jersey on occasion. Rory Gallagher will plan without Durcan for the opening stages of the Allianz League – at least – before the picture becomes clearer.
MICHAEL BOYLE FIRST appeared for Donegal in the championship in 2005 as a 17-year-old Leaving Cert student. However, since then the Termon netminder has won only three championship appearances – all in 2009 – and when he replaced Paul Durcan in the second fixture of the Allianz League at Croke Park last February, it was his first appearance in the league since 2010.
Boyle, now 27, was close to getting the start against Tyrone in last year’s Ulster SFC but missed out and eventually spent the summer with Donegal Boston, before suffering a cruciate injury on his return in September. Boyle, who is now part of Francie Friel’s management team at Termon, is doing well in his recovery and is expected to be fit for summer.
Mark Anthony McGinley
WHEN MICHAEL BOYLE departed for Boston in June, St Michael’s Mark Anthony McGinley was elevated to the position of Paul Durcan’s deputy and that would give an indicator that the Ards native could be the man starting in the first outing of the upcoming Allianz League Division One against Newry in Down on Saturday, Janaury 30.
McGinley’s GAA career was stunted from 2009 to 2014, as he was a student at UCD on a soccer scholarship having played locally for Fanad United. But since his return to the north-west, the 25-year-old, who is a fine striker of the ball and enjoys taking placed balls for his club, is back in the groove. He was named to start against Down in the Dr McKenna Cup, only to suffer a quad injury moments beforehand.
THE DUNGLOE NETMINDER stood in for Mark Anthony McGinley against Down in the Dr McKenna Cup and, with Rory Gallagher saying he would rotate his goalkeepers in the season opening competition, stayed between the posts for the St Mary’s game in Letterkenny. If McGinley doesn’t make it back to fitness, Rodgers will be in against Down.
Rodgers – a fine shot-stopper – was the man who kept goal as Donegal won the 2014 Ulster Minor Championship and got to the All-Ireland final and last year, he was lining out for both the county minors and Under-21’s. Last Saturday he played for Declan Bonner’s side as they pipped Mayo to seal a place in the North-West Under-21 Cup. Donegal face Mayo again in the final of that competition on Saturday in Sligo. Could be a busy year.
IT’S PROBABLY A quiz question now but Peter Boyle was the man who played in Jim McGuinness’s first Allianz League match, which was in Division Two in February 2011 against Sligo. The Aodh Ruadh netminder was part of McGuinness’s side that won the Ulster Under-21 the year beforehand, 2010.
Boyle was taken back into the Donegal senior panel this month, as back-up initially to Danny Rodgers. However, Boyle was back on the team last Wednesday night in the Dr McKenna Cup 0-12 to 0-8 loss against Fermanagh at Brewster Park. It was Boyle’s first outing for the county seniors since the home match against Monaghan in 2013, also in the Dr McKenna Cup, which was when Jim McGuinness gave then Under-21 manager Maxi Curran use of the competition in preparation for the Ulster Under-21 Championship.Tags: