BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THIS time last year, Donegal were enjoying the exotic surroundings of Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, but yesterday Jim McGuinness’s squad took to the cold climbs of Convoy to face Roscommon in their final challenge game before the Dr McKenna Cup opener with Tyrone on Sunday.
McGuinness has named a strong panel for the pre-season competition and ten players who featured in the 2012 All-Ireland final played in the 2-13 to 0-10 win over Roscommon.
Last year, a squad made up mainly of the county under 21s played in the McKenna Cup as the All-Ireland winners were given some added time off.
Now, though, the die is being cast as early as possible – and defender Eamon McGee can feel the difference.
“We feel that we have a wee bit more in the legs this year,” the Gaoth Dobhair man said.
“We’re not killing ourselves training, just ticking over, but when you compare it to last year, there is a wee bit more done.
“We felt that it wasn’t in the legs. We had a lot of boys injured last year and it just wasn’t there. It’s nice to get it in now at this time and we’ve learned from last year.
“It’s nice to get a bit of football at this time of the year.
“This time last year we were heading into Dubai…here we are now! It’s good to get out and work on the intensity, even if it’s a bit off what we’d like it to be.”
Darach O’Connor and Colm McFadden netted the goals in Donegal’s win, in which there were a number of bright points – but McGee would rather not analyse the clash in any great depth.
“It’s hard to analyse any game like that,” he said.
“It’s just a case of brushing the cobwebs off us, rather than looking at who played well or who didn’t. It’s more about working on fitness and working on the ball.”
The black-carding of Roscommon’s scoring ace Donie Shine was a big factor in the game. McGee, deputising at full-back in the absence of his brother Neil, isn’t a fan of the new rules.
He said: ““I thought that I’d be the first man to get one, but so far I’ve stayed away from it.
“I haven’t had much experience so far, but it’s going to be very frustrating for players. It’ll put more pressure on referees that they don’t need. Personally I don’t agree with them but, listen, let them learn the hard way.”