Declan Bonner claimed Donegal might not be able to field a team next Sunday if they make the semi-finals of the Dr McKenna Cup following the 1-12 to 0-14 win over Monaghan today.
Shaun Patton’s injury-time penalty save from Shane Carey in Ballybofey meant victory for Donegal, who trailed 0-7 to 0-2 at one stage in the first half and lost full-back Brendan McCole to a second yellow in the second. Peadar Mogan scored the only goal of the game on 51 minutes and should Donegal avoid defeat in Derry on Wednesday they will top Section C.
“We’re looking at 12 or 13 players who are playing Sigerson next Sunday and won’t be available,” the Donegal manager said. “There’s a possibility we might not even have a team to play. It’s pure madness in terms of how the fixtures are coming.
“To me, Sigerson is played out at the end of the year, November and December time. Finish that out and let inter-county start in January, because it’s very difficult to serve a couple of masters. You’re into the first week of January and there’s already a lot of fixtures. They talk about player welfare and burnout, these are lads are in the first week of January playing competitive matches. The McKenna Cup or third level, something has to change.
“Problem is you’re looking at a lot of young lads. We have a very young squad and all of them are third level. If they’re playing inter-county, they’re going to be playing at third level. Something needs to give. We know if we get over Wednesday night, we won’t have those guys because they’re playing Sigerson next weekend and that’s it.”
Bonner will not force his more experienced players back into action prematurely. For example last season, captain Michael Murphy didn’t feature until their fourth league outing.
“You can’t force those guys back in, they’re on a planned schedule to return and you’re at risk of picking up injuries,” Bonner said. “We’ve handled Michael and these guys well the last few years and that’s the way it’s going to be again.”
In Section B, Antrim will face Down on Wednesday night for top spot and a guaranteed semi-final spot. Yesterday at Ahoghill, two goals from Paddy McBride enabled Antrim to overcome Fermanagh on a 2-8 to 0-13 scoreline.