McColgan hoping to push on in second season

By Michael McMullan

PLAYING at inter-county senior level is a learning curve and Donegal’s Caolan McColgan is hoping he can push on this season with the help of new manager Jim McGuinness.

McColgan played in all but one of Donegal’s games last season and caught the eye with three points from wing-back in a player of the match performance as Donegal beat All-Ireland champions Kerry in Ballybofey on his league debut.

It was a season that saw Donegal relegated before finishing with a burst in the new-look All-Ireland group stages before going out at the hands of Tyrone.

“It was a bit of a learning curve with it being my first season at it. I can hopefully push on into this season with the help of Jim,” he said ahead of the 2024 campaign that began at home to Armagh on Wednesday night.

For McColgan, the difference at senior inter-county level is the step up in physicality and how little time you have on the ball.

“You have to think on your feet straight away, so it is the first thing that comes into your head, you don’t have time to overthink it, you have to get it done,” he said.

It was a tough gig for Donegal last season with a host of players stepping away for a variety of reasons including Michael Murphy, who called time on a decorated career.

It left young players like McColgan thrown into action and he hopes it will stand to them as they head into the new season.

The return of McGuinness as manager has brought a fresh enthusiasm to the county thanks to the progress from being ranked 19th in the country to lifting Sam Maguire during his last stint as manager. McColgan was also excited by his return.

“They (the people of Donegal) know what he can do, he is a real winner,” McColgan said. “He is a born winner; I think everyone knows that and are looking forward to it.”

The initial focus will be on the league with an eye on championship, beginning with a showdown against a Derry team eyeing a third Ulster title in succession.

“We want to get a good league campaign under our belts to prepare us for the championship,” said McColgan, who also hopes some of the county’s underage players can made the step into the squad.

“For me, getting a spot back and keeping it for a full year, that’s the main one. It is a hard squad to get into this year, so it’s about getting the head down now when the hard work starts.”

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