Saturday 24 February 2018

Bonner set for second term at Donegal helm

Declan Bonner will be ratified as the new Donegal football manager tonight
Declan Bonner will be ratified as the new Donegal football manager tonight
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Declan Bonner will be ratified as the new Donegal football manager tonight.

A special county board meeting has been called for the Villa Rose Hotel in Ballybofey where the only item on the agenda is expected to be Bonner's ratification.

Bonner is the choice of a five-man interview committee that was charged with finding a replacement for Rory Gallagher, who stepped down after Donegal's defeat to Galway in an All-Ireland fourth-round qualifier.

Bonner previously managed the Donegal team from 1998 to 2000, not long after he had quit playing inter-county football.

In recent times Bonner has managed Donegal to Ulster minor and U-21 success, taking the minor team to an All-Ireland final in 2014.

County chairman Sean Dunnion, secretary Aideen Gillen and treasurer Ceiran Kelly were joined by former Kilmacud Crokes All-Ireland club-winning manager Paddy Carr and former selector Damien Diver in recommending Bonner.

But the process was quite exhaustive before the 1992 All-Ireland winner was chosen ahead of the other candidates, Cathal Corey and Sean Paul Barrett.

Bonner was publicly favoured by his 1992 All-Ireland-winning manager Brian McEniff in a recent interview.

Former Monaghan, Meath and Wexford manager Seamus McEnaney and Gary McDaid, the former Glenswilly manager who spent a year with Rory Gallagher as a selector, withdrew early in the process.

Donegal are facing a period of transition after the retirement of so many of their 2012 All-Ireland winners over the last 13 months.

Gallagher commenced the change but after a promising league they dipped badly in the championship.

Bonner will have a strong familiarity with many of the players now pushing through, having had them as minors and U-21s.

But he will be without Paddy McGrath for much of the league as he recovers from a cruciate ligament tear.

It is also anticipated that Neil McGee will take a break in the early part of next year.

Donegal will be hoping that Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Jason McGee will be available in 2018 after they had recent trials with AFL club Brisbane Lions.

Sligo, Louth, Westmeath and Wexford still have managerial vacancies to fill in the coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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