BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL chairman, Sean Dunnion, and treasurer, Cieran Kelly, are to meet the county minor manager, Declan Bonner, after Tuesday night’s county committee meeting heard clubs allege that the county boss had instructed certain players not to play with their club sides in recent weeks.
The claims have been strongly denied by Bonner and by the Donegal Children’s Officer, Mick McGrath.
Buncrana delegate Chris Walsh raised the issue at the meeting, while John Cunningham (Killybegs) and Hughie McClafferty (Downings) also spoke strongly.
McGrath is the appointed county officer to oversee underage affairs.
“At no time was there any instruction from the Minor Board,” he told the meeting.
“If the county manager has, then I’m not aware of it. I have spoken to Declan about this matter and he has told me that there was never any ban imposed on these players.”
The Buncrana representative, Walsh, said that he felt a ‘club v county situation’ was developing.
“We were told at the last meeting that there is no request, but when we come to games players are saying that they have been told they can’t play,” he said.
“Under-18 players are turning up to the club and are telling us that they can’t play. It is leaving a club v county situation. Under-18 players should not be put into that position.
“We had two minors who came and told us that they couldn’t play, that they were asked not to play. It is time for the County Board to be saying that these answers don’t wash. Something needs to be done. This must be a player welfare issue?”
His comments were echoed by former Donegal players Cunningham and McClafferty.
“It is a very unfair position to put players into,” Cunningham said.
“We all want our players to represent the county minors and something needs to be done here.
“We are in huge difficulty here talking to players and asking them what the story is. The players are coming back and saying that they have been told not to play for the clubs.”
Downings delegate McClafferty said: “I agree wholeheartedly. Our minor player has been told not to play. There is serious pressure on young players now.”
Bonner has also moved to clarify the matter.
“I am constantly in touch with club managers,” he said.
“Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher (Killybegs) was out for three weeks with a hamstring injury and was only back just before we played Derry. He hasn’t played since because of the Leaving Cert.
“Regarding Lorcan Connor (Downings), we had a night away in Ballyshannon last month. Downings changed their game with Fanad Gaels from Sunday to Saturday that weekend, which meant it clashed with our overnight.
“After our League final against Tyrone, Buncrana had a game the following week, but John Campbell didn’t play because he picked up a knock and was left out on the advice of the physio. I spoke to Davy McConnell about that matter and there was no problem.
“I am in constant contact with the two clubs who have the most players on the squad – Gaoth Dobhair and St Eunan’s have eleven players between them and I am regularly speaking with Kevin Cassidy and Maxi Curran.
“At no stage was there a ‘ban’ placed on the players. It would be normal practice for certain players to be ring-fenced seven days before a championship match with the county.”
Meanwhile, Donegal’s Ulster Minor semi-final clash with Antrim will definitely go ahead as part of a double header alongside the senior semi-final meeting of the counties on June 22nd. The Ulster Council will announce the venue on Sunday evening following the Armagh-Cavan game.
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