BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE Donegal U21s are heading into the lion’s den thiss evening as they face a tricky Ulster quarter-final against Tyrone in Healy Park, Omagh (throw-in 8pm).
It took a long time for Donegal to appoint a manager with Maxi Curran left in a race against time to ready his troops for battle.
The Downings man has managed to get in quite a bit of work and has been attempting to make up for lost time with a number of challenge games arranged. The squad trained on Sunday evening in Convoy following Donegal’s National League win over Mayo in Ballyshannon earlier in the day.
Curran, who is assisted by his brother Barney and Termon’s Francie Friel, is able to call on senior star Patrick McBrearty, as well as new senior recruit Martin O’Reilly in an attack that will also include Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy.
In addition, Curran can call upon senior panelist Thomas McKinley and goalkeeper Peter Boyle, who has played for the Donegal seniors.
A number of players still remain from the panel of 2010 which contested that year’s All-Ireland final with Dublin. Curran will also be looking to the likes of Conor Gibbons (St Eunan’s), Raymond McLaughlin (St Michael’s) and Corey Gallagher (Dungloe).
Other to return from last year include Peter Devine (St Eunan’s), Stephen Doak (St Michael’s) and Luke Keaney (Four Masters).
But they’re up against a Tyrone team that was excellent last week in a one-sided 1-14 to 1-3 preliminary round win over Fermanagh. Conor McAliskey was in superb form, adding three points to a goal that was scored just 15 seconds in.
Others to watch out for are St Enda’s Omagh star Ronan O’Neill, Thomas Canavan (nephew of Peter) and Niall Sludden.
It’s a busy schedule for the likes of McBrearty, O’Reilly and Molloy, who all featured for the Donegal seniors yesterday.
“They’ll be ready for the match on Wednesday,” said Jim McGuinness, the previous U21 boss. “They’re up against a very good Tyrone team, but hopefully they can put their best foot forward.
“They have some good talent there so it’s a decent Under 21 team.”
DONEGAL U21 squad: Peter Boyle (Aodh Ruadh), Christopher McGlynn (Dungloe), Kevin McFadden (Cloughaneely), Sean O’Kennedy (Four Masters), Ciaran Cannon (Letterkenny Gaels), Pauric Carr (Kilcar), Ciaran Connaghan (Killybegs), Thomas McKinley (Naomh Colmcille), Peter Devine (St Eunan’s), Cory Gallagher (Dungloe), Raymond McLaughlin (St Michael’s), Luke Keaney (Four Masters), Shea Coyle (Downings), Cathal Ellis (Naomh Conaill), Martin O’Reilly (MacCumhaills), Michael McEniff (Bundoran), Peter McGonagle (Bundoran), Shaun McGarvey (Cloughaneely), Patrick McBrearty (Kilcar), Dermot Molloy (Naomh Conaill), Caolan Ward (St Eunan’s), Gary Clancy (Bundoran), Stephen Doak (St Michael’s), Darren McGeever (Cloughaneely), Michael Cannon (St Michael’s), Seamie Friel (Fanad Gaels), Oisin McGinty (Four Masters), Conor Gibbons (St Eunan’s).