Rory Kavanagh, Christy Toye and David Walsh no longer with Donegal
Rory Gallagher’s squad now without nine of the players who lined out last season
Christy Toye in action against Dublin in the All-Ireland football semi-final in 2014. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Donegal will be missing nine players from last year’s squad in the biggest shake-up in the county since 2010.
Team manager Rory Gallagher has announced that long-serving Rory Kavanagh, Christy Toye and David Walsh are no longer part of the squad.
This experienced trio join Colm Anthony McFadden, Eamon McGee, Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Odhran MacNiallais in the list of the departed.
“Anthony Thompson has not retired, he has a number of work commitments himself and we will touch base later.
“Christy Toye still felt his body was keen but he has other personal commitments and that is nine players gone from last year’s squad.
“We would have been very aware of those situations as early as coming up the road from the Dublin match last year.
“I felt that Christy might be there and Anthony too, but that’s the situation.
“We have to be realistic as Rory was just coming back for a year and he is 35, while Christy Toye is 34.
“David Walsh is 35 this year, and Colm McFadden, and we are well aware that the road was ending for them.”
“Of them all, I felt that Christy was athletically in a good place but he had other personal circumstances.”
And while most of those players did not start, Gallagher said he knew that Odhran MacNiallais was going to leave the squad last April.
“But the door is always open for Odhran and he has personal reasons.”
Gallagher said he was now focused on a squad that includes 16 under-21s since they resumed training last September.
These departures mean that Donegal will be under pressure to fill central positions.
When asked about the background to Leo McLoone’s much discussed departure, Gallagher said: “We must respect everyone’s decision.”
On a brighter note, Neil Gallagher is back doing light training and he is on the road to recovery.
Toye and Kavanagh’s contribution to Donegal had been “phenomenal”, said Gallagher. “It is sad for both of them. They owed nobody anything and they have enjoyed their careers. Christy Toye was on the Sigerson panel in 2002.”
Lot of youth
Gallagher added that he was really happy with the squad.
“I am delighted with the squad and there is a lot of youth in it.”
When asked if an Ulster title was a long- term objective, Gallagher said Donegal were focusing on the league initially.
“Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Caolan McGonigle, Ciaran Gillespie, Conor Morrison, Cian Mulligan, Stephen Mulligan, Stephen McLaughlin, Rory Carr, Mark Coyle, Brendan McCole, Jamie Brennan, Michael Langan, Ethan O’Donnell, Jason McGee, Michael Carroll and Enda McCormick are all under-21 and are all part of our senior squad,” said Gallagher.