Donegal turn to 'shadow' squad
ALL-IRELAND champions Donegal touch down in Dublin today just 24 hours before the start of their 2013 campaign.
The flight from Dubai delivers Jim McGuinness' men back into a very different environment than 12 months ago when they spent much of January training on the beach at Castlefin.
But the title of champions brings its benefits and they rang in the new year at a beach party in the Middle East resort while they shared a hotel with the Galway hurlers, who were also on their end-of-year holiday.
However, it wasn't all play. They trained on the beach in Dubai and lined out against a Gulf selection. And tomorrow McGuinness' men travel to Brewster Park to take on Fermanagh in their McKenna Cup opener.
The Donegal boss described last year's McKenna Cup as a "negative sort of campaign for us" and cast doubt over whether Donegal would participate in the 2013 competition.
McGuinness is one of a number of county managers unhappy with the rule that gives colleges first preference on players and he was involved in a war of words with DCU boss Niall Moyna over midfielder Martin McElhinney.
While Donegal stopped short of withdrawing from the competition – something that McGuinness considered – they will field a shadow side, made up largely of U-21s.
Of the provisional 20-man list submitted to the Ulster Council, only eight members of last year's All-Ireland-winning panel have been included.
McGuinness is expected to give his stars some time to catch up and will reintroduce them to the side closer to the league.