Last year we lost a bit of respect - McElhinney
Donegal senior footballers will be on a mission to regain some respect, as their 2018 campaign gets under way against QUB in the Dr McKenna Cup in Ballybofey tonight (8.0).
That is the view of 2012 All-Ireland medallist Martin McElhinney as he faces into his 12th season in county colours. The 29-year-old versatile midfielder candidly admits that last year was not one to be remembered in the county.
"Last year we lost a bit of respect. It was the first year in a long time that we failed to reach the Ulster final and we were well beaten in the Qualifiers. It was very disappointing. Donegal is a very proud footballing county and we lost some respect last year that we had fought so hard to gain over the years. So there will be plenty of motivation to do well".
McElhinney is now one of the older hands as a raft of towering youngsters are in the current squad with ambitions to nail down a permanent spot in team manager Declan Bonner's plans.
And they have a new captain in 24-year-old Hugh McFadden from Killybegs, a player McElhinney rates highly.
"Hugh is right up there with the very best club players in the county. He is a big strong lad with a great attitude and is a leader with his club and also with his county so he is a good choice".
The current Donegal squad has a nice balance between youth an experience.
"A lot of these young lads that played under Declan Bonner at underage level are big strong lads but they have also been doing strength and conditioning work in the gym since they were fairly young teenagers. And this has accelerated the transition."