Donegal have been handed a tough Ulster Championship draw as they have been paired with Cavan in the Preliminary Round.
Speaking this week, new Donegal manager Declan Bonner said he was hoping to avoid the Preliminary Round, but he had no such luck, and they will face a tricky home tie with Mattie McGleenan’s Cavan.
If Donegal come through that match, they will be away to Derry in the Ulster quarter-final.
Bonner has recalled a number of familiar faces to his panel, as he sets his plans in motion for the 2018 season.
Odhrán MacNiallais is set to return after taking a year out in 2016, while 2012 All-Ireland winner Leo McLoone is expected to return to the side.
Another member of that All-Ireland winning side, Declan Walsh from Malin, is also set to feature in the green and gold colours again after withdrawing just a few months into Rory Gallagher’s tenure.
Stephen McBrearty opted off the senior panel in May to go to America, but he is expected to be back in the mix, as is his Kilcar clubmate Ciaran McGinley, who played in the league for Donegal in 2015.
Bonner has delved into his successful underage teams with Stephen McMenamin (Red Hugh’s), Tony McClenaghan (Moville) and Dáire Ó Baoill (Gaoth Dobhair) all set to make the step up.
Gary Merritt has been rewarded for helping Milford to the Intermediate title with a call-up, and Four Masters’ towering midfielder Kevin McBrearty will also be given a chance to impress.
A number of younger players will be brought in to train with the senior team to aid their development.
It is evident from these selections that Bonner will be looking for a stronger, more physical approach, which will be in contrast to Rory Gallagher’s stance in 2016, as he favoured smaller, quicker players.
The full Ulster Championship draw is as follows:
Donegal v Cavan
Donegal/Cavan v Derry
Fermanagh v Armagh
Tyrone v Monaghan
Down v Antrim
Donegal/Cavan/Derry v Down/Antrim
Fermanagh/Armagh v Tyrone/Monaghan