ALL-IRELAND champions Donegal met to discuss their plans ahead of the 2013 season for the first time in Letterkenny on Saturday.
Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher got the squad together for a lengthy discussion about the road ahead as the new season looms large now on their horizons.
The players have again been put on individual programmes for the coming weeks and some shape is once more being placed on the blueprint by the management after a madcap couple of months, since winning Sam Maguire on September 23rd.
“We told the boys the party’s over,” said Donegal Assistant Manager Rory Gallagher.
“There’ll be a few nights here and there and the team holiday, but we’re getting them back into the gym work now.
“It was about setting down a marker.
“We felt last year that we didn’t do enoug over the winter and we got caught cold at the start of the League.”
The squad, management and backroom team will travel to Dubai for the team holiday in late December and the McKenna Cup squad will be made up largely of the 2013 under 21 panel, which is currently in collective training.
With a Championship meeting against Tyrone in March, the management see the McKenna Cup as an ideal chance to give the younger players in the county a chance to shine and also integrating those presently on the fringes of the senior squad.
The National Football League, which begins with a game against Kildare in early February, will be the date the more senior members of McGuinness’s ranks will be working towards.
Captain Michael Murphy is currently sidelined with a foot injury sustained in the All-Stars game in New York last weekend, while there a number of other niggles to be cleared up.
On Saturday’s get-together, Gallagher added: “It was the first time we got together at a non-social event and getting down to business – which is what we all got involved for.
“We are curtailed by the winter training ban and we can’t get going until very late in December. We have had a chat to the lads and we have outlined what we expect them to be doing individually, with regards their strength, conditioning and a bit of running.”
Saturday’s was the first get-together of the group as a whole since it was confirmed that McGuinness was taking up a role with Celtic as a Performance Consultant. And his number two, Gallagher has thrown his support to the move.
He said: “The first thing that has to be cleared up is that we have put out a schedule to every player in the squad and it is no less than what we put in last year. Jim will be attending every one of those (sessions), barring the man is sick.
“He has to work and it is a terrific opportunity for him. It’s something we believe can be turned into a positive and use to Celtic to our advantage and learn from them.”