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Donegal manager Bonner is so proud of his champions

 

By Declan Bogue

While waiting around the tunnel area for Donegal manager Declan Bonner after his side's Ulster U21 title triumph last night, the dressing room door flew open once or twice to give the techno beats a chance to reach a larger audience.

Inside, the mood was undoubtedly giddy, but the manager was staying out of the road. When he was located, he was in full 'ah, shucks' mode, despite his young guns firing out a warning with their 3-17 to 0-13 trouncing of Derry.

Bonner has been with around 90% of this group since they were 16-years-old, and now he has delivered provincial glory.

What pleased him the most?

"The discipline," he answered. "In the first half I felt we gave away a few cheap frees, but the discipline after the break was very good.

"It's a fine thing, trying to get your attack right when you are breaking forward in such numbers, you have to make sure you have the cover at the back too.

"A lot of boys put in such a huge shift there and the lads that came off the bench added to the game. A very good performance."

With around a dozen of the panel also involved with Rory Gallagher's seniors, Bonner points to the decision between himself and Gallagher to send the Under-21s into the McKenna Cup as the best bit of business they could have done.

"We took on the McKenna Cup in January and it is one of the best things we have ever done," said the man from the Rosses.

"We got to look at quite a lot of players against good quality opposition in a competitive environment.

"We were happy with that. Even though we got a heavy defeat against Tyrone, it wasn't about results. A lot of these guys then went on to play for Donegal in the National League. The last number of weeks it has been testing for a number of players, but they have a great attitude."

In the tunnel, having to endure the beats from the victorious Donegal dressing room, Derry manager Fergal McCusker rued the black card awarded to his attacker Shane McGuigan, on the word of linesman Paudie Hughes.

"The only man that sees it is the man who wants to be centre of attention, Paudie Hughes. It's all about Paudie, it's the Paudie show, isn't it?" he said.

"But that wasn't the winning or losing of the game. We were four points down at half-time. The goal before half-time was the difference. If I had have got the guys in level...

"Once they get the gap up, it's always going to be difficult to get that back and draw them back. To have to go chasing the game, it's very difficult when they can hit you on the break."

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