Tuesday 15 October 2019

Bonner hopeful Mac Niallais will return for summer

Donegal manager Declan Bonner. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Donegal manager Declan Bonner. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Independent.ie newsdesk

Donegal boss Declan Bonner expects Odhrán Mac Niallais to rejoin his panel for the start of the 2019 Ulster Championship.

Mac Niallais indicated that he wants to take 'a break' from football after Gaoth Dobhair's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Corofin on Saturday.

The midfield tyro had a long campaign with county and club from early 2018 and has also been trying to come to terms with the tragic death of his close friend Micheál Roarty, who was one of four men killed in a road traffic accident last month.

Bonner has spoken with Mac Niallais - who came back to the Donegal squad in 2018 after opting out in 2017.

"I expect him to come back," Bonner said. "It was always the plan that he'd take a couple of weeks after Gaoth Dobhair went out, regardless if they won or lost against Corofin.

"That is nothing new to me. I knew that anyway. He's had a very difficult time over the last few weeks. We have to give him space now. I'll be chatting to him again. There's no real rush to have him back."

On the possibility of Mac Niallais returning to action at some stage during Donegal's Division 2 campaign, Bonner explained: "We'll wait and see. It's not in stone that he won't play in the league, but the possibility is slim enough. It'll probably be the championship."

Meanwhile, reigning Dublin football champions Kilmacud Crokes will have to emerge from a difficult group following last night's draw at Parnell Park.

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Last year's beaten Leinster finalists have been paired with beaten 2017 Dublin finalists Ballymun Kickhams, St Sylvester's and Na Fianna who are now managed by former star forward Dessie Farrell. All four teams made it to last year's quarter-finals.

The beaten finalists from 2018, St Jude's, are in the same group as St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh, Thomas Davis and Raheny, while St Vincent's are in with St Brigid's and Castleknock and Ballinteer St John's.

In hurling, the capital's 'big three' of champions Ballyboden St Enda's, former All-Ireland kingpins Cuala and Kilmacud Crokes have all avoided each other.

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