• Paul McIntyre

Odhran MacNiallais Returns To The Donegal Senior Football Panel After A Two Year Absence

After spending two years away from the inter-county scene, Odhran MacNiallais has announced that he is returning to the Donegal senior football panel. The news is a welcome boost to manager Declan Bonner who would still have been reeling by the sudden departure of Karl Lacey from his backroom team just days before.

His return will come as a surprise to even the most diehard Tir Chonaill supporter. Ever since his club Gaoth Dobhair captured the Ulster Club championship in 2018, Bonner’s attempts to entice the mercurial playmaker back to the senior set up have been meet with refusal and just last year he indicated to two national newspapers that he had no intentions of returning citing a lack of enjoyment and being unable to make the levels of commitment required, but with a new structure to the incoming season, MacNiallais feels the time is right for a comeback.

It’s been a turbulent spell away from the Donegal set up for MacNiallais. In early 2019 he lost his close friend Micheál McRoarty in a car crash. A tragedy that also claimed the lives of two other young men from the Gaoth Dobhair area. The loss of his friend hit him hard and MacNiallais started to look at life in a different perspective. After contemplating a move to Australia, MacNiallais decided to move to London in early 2020 as he didn’t want to be moving too far away from family and friends. However with the Covid-19 pandemic striking, he returned home after just six weeks.

MacNiallais joins a panel still hurting following their surprise Ulster final defeat to Cavan last November. Many had seen Bonner’s outfit as the closest challengers to Dublin before the Breffni blues grabbed the glory at the end of a dramatic finale.

The addition of the Gaoth Dobhair man will boost their options in the final third. MacNiallais is renowned for his playmaker capabilities and regarded as one of the games best kick passers. With goalkeeper Shaun Patton having a quick and accurate kick out, could we see Donegal launch even quicker attacks than we saw in last years championship?

With being a midfielder for his club his ball winning around the middle third can also help take the pressure off Michael Murphy. This is an area where Donegal are starting to become very imposing and MacNiallais’ addition also adds another athletic ball player. He is also a renowned free taker.

You could say that MacNiallais is as close to as you can get to being the complete footballer and his return to county colours will not only excite those in the North-west, but also football fans up and down the country. Lets just hope he gets to showcase his talents in front of spectators in the very near future.

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