Donegal preparing for marathon solo journeys to Tralee

Some players will have to travel over 450km on their own due to Covid precautions

Donegal manager Declan Bonner speaks to his players before Sunday’s win over Tyrone. Photo: Lorcan Doherty /Inpho

Donegal manager Declan Bonner speaks to his players before Sunday’s win over Tyrone. Photo: Lorcan Doherty /Inpho

 

In a bid to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection, Donegal players will drive to Tralee for Saturday’s Division 1 game against Kerry.

Donegal will travel on Friday evening and stay overnight in Kerry.

Players and management will all drive individually. For some in the Donegal camp, it means a journey of over 450km.

Carndonagh-based Conor O’Donnell faces a 487km trek, Neil McGee and Daire Ó Baoill will drive 458km from Gaoth Dobhair and Jason McGee will make a 465km journey from Falcarragh.

“We have to take everything into consideration and the risk factor of having lads together on a bus for a long period of time,” Donegal manager Declan Bonner said.

“Any slip-up at this stage and the Championship could be gone. We have to be very careful.”

Donegal’s logistics officer, Packie McDyer, and county chairman Mick McGrath are working on the itinerary.

With Donegal set to face Tyrone in the Ulster Championship on Sunday-week, Donegal are keen to keep contacts to the minimum.

Bonner said: “There’s no doubt it’s difficult. Trying to get all of that sorted at the best of times can be difficult, but now it’s to an extreme. Especially for a long distance like we have at the weekend which is five and a half or six hours for some players. It’s not easy.”

It will be a strange experience for the players, too.

Midfielder High McFadden will leave work at Scoil an Linbh Íosa in Killymard before pointing the car for Tralee.

“It’s very different,” McFadden said.

“Even getting over and back to training is different now. You miss the craic in the car coming over the road. We travel on our own now.

“This weekend is very different. Usually we’d go on the bus the evening before and the card school would be going at the back. It poses a lot of challenges, but we just have to do what we have to do to adapt.”

While Longford conceded their game against Cork ahead of this weekend, Bonner insists that such a thought didn’t cross the Tir Chonaill minds, in spite of their Division 1 survival having been made safe.

The Donegal manager said: “We could have done without the match, but this is Division 1 of the National League, the second most important competition so we’ll fulfil the fixture.

“We’re in a fortunate enough position that we’re fit enough to go out there and represent the county amid the doom and gloom. We see it as a privilege that we are fit to go and represent Donegal and the people of Donegal, so we’ll fulfil the fixture.”

Defender Odhrán McFadden-Ferry has withdrawn from the Donegal squad. The Gaoth Dobhair man, a soldier based at Finner Camp, is preparing to go to Lebanon with the 28th Infantry Battalion on a peacekeeping mission.

Patrick McBrearty and Michael Langan, who missed Sunday’s win over Tyrone appear unlikely to be risked in Kerry, given the proximity to the Championship tussle with the Red Hands.

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