DONEGAL manager Declan Bonner is anticipating a much greater challenge this Sunday as the team travel to Down for their second game of the Dr McKenna Cup.
Bonner’s men began their campaign with a facile ten-point win over Queen’s University in an underwhelming encounter in MacCumhaill Park last week.
This week’s match against Down in Pairc Esler, Newry (throw-in, 1.30pm) should be a more competitive game.
Tyrone native Paddy Tally has recently taken over as Down manager, although they were defeated in their opener by Cavan on a scoreline of 0-13 to 1-9.
Down need to win this week to have any chance of making it through to the McKenna Cup semi-final, and Bonner feels his team will get a stiff test as they look to put themselves in a strong position to advance to the last four.
“We’re expecting it to be a much tougher test.
“Down have a new manager in place in Paddy Tally, and they have a number of lads back, and they will be trying to impress.
“Looking at their scoreline last week, we can see that they are going to be organised and disciplined, as Paddy Tally’s team always are.
“We’re looking to pick up another win, and the aim is to get out of the group.
“If we don’t make it out, then we will have a two-and-a-half week break ahead of the league game in Ennis.
“We’ll probably be looking for a challenge match if that is the case, so I think it would be more beneficial to get a good competitive game in the McKenna Cup.”
Niall O’Donnell (chest infection) and Jason McGee (knock) both came off in the win over Queen’s, but are expected to feature this weekend.
With Donegal set to face Cavan in their final McKenna Cup game on Wednesday – three days after the Down clash – Bonner may be tempted to rotate some of his players, but will wait to see where they stand after the game in Newry.
“We will be working off the same squad that we had last week, and everyone should be available.
“There will be a number of changes and we will have a look at a few lads that didn’t play last week like Mark Anthony McGinley.
“We will only have a couple of days to recover then ahead of the Cavan match, but all the focus is on Down, and we will see how we are fixed after that.”