Major Donegal managerial development

By Frank Craig

Donegal’s bid to find its new senior football team boss has been dealt a huge blow with the news that Malachy O’Rourke has ruled himself out of the running.

The Donegal News understands that the former Fermangh and Monaghan manager isn’t interested in succeeding Declan Bonner at the helm for the 2023 campaign.


O’Rourke, who is currently in charge of Derry champions Watty Graham’s Glen, was the man most Tír Chonaill supporters favoured after it became clear 2012 All-Ireland winning boss Jim McGuinness wasn’t returning for a second stint in charge of his native county.

He managed the Farney men to provincial glory in both 2013 and ’15, at the expense of Donegal on both occasions.

Martin McHugh’s name was also to the fore in the immediate speculation following Bonner’s resignation back in June. But the 1992 legend isn’t believed to have been nominated by any club. Having previously been overlooked for the job back in 1994, McHugh famously went on to lead Cavan to the Ulster title just three seasons later. His other big success in a bainisteoir’s bib was guiding Sligo IT to Sigerson Cup success in 2002.

The nominations for the high-profile post closed over a fortnight ago but county board officials remain tight-lipped about the identity of the three-person panel designated to find Bonner’s successor.
That said, the same trio of individuals tasked with finding the best possible candidate for the job could yet decide to make their own moves outside the perimeters of the nominations process.
With O’Rourke ruling himself out of the running, and even though he wasn’t nominated, the selection committee might yet revisit the possibility of making their own overtures towards McHugh.

The other name still linked to the post is that of Shaun Paul Barrett – who has managed the Donegal minor and Under 20s in the past. He led the Donegal minors to Ulster minor championship success in 2016, losing out narrowly to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park.

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