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McBurney/Declan Bogue

Pictured Declan Bogue

Date: Thursday 12th April 2012

Location: BT Offices

Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Liam McBurney - RAZORPIX


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Armagh have shown that league form remains an unreliable indicator for the Championship

Declan Bogue


Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney

One of the most impressive sights in Gaelic Games is just how rapidly Donegal manager Declan Bonner can dispose of a pesky question.

Bonner is an engaging interviewee, but completely allergic to talking for the sake of it.

A question regarding whether he had any feelings of panic after their league campaign was aimed at him.

“No,” answered Bonner. “I don’t even listen to what is going on. Not one bit. I don’t know anybody here. We were getting ready for the Championship and that’s all we were doing.”

Despite his protestations, the man from the Rosses listens to plenty of what goes on.

During round three of the league, Donegal suffered badly in a 1-13 to 0-7 loss to Kerry in Killarney. It might be noted that A) this was Kerry in Killarney — stuff like that happens to every team from time to time — and B) Donegal were without Michael Langan and Michael Murphy, the two players who, along with Ryan McHugh, are responsible for turning possession into attacks.

Nevertheless, that did not stop Anton Carroll, an Ulster winner with Donegal back in 1972, from firing off an email to The Donegal Democrat newspaper. His view was fairly cruel.

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“Unquestionably inept,” he said. “No sensible, coherent game plan in the second half.

“There was no convincing plan, and there hasn’t been one for a long time.”

Later that very week, Donegal beat All-Ireland champions Tyrone in Ballybofey.

Afterwards, Bonner said: “We spoke about (the criticism) during the week and the lads were refocused for the match.

“It is only two points, but it is still good to get those two points against our neighbours and the All-Ireland champions Tyrone.”

People say that Latin Americans and Mediterraneans are demonstrative people, while us stuck out here on the western point of Europe have a more dour demeanour. That seems entirely absent when it comes to the chat and coverage around Gaelic Games.

I’ll give another example. A prominent opinion writer was suggesting after Henry Shefflin was appointed as Galway hurling manager that his own county, Kilkenny, had missed a trick in not getting rid of Brian Cody.

The effect, he maintained, would have been to replicate what happened in Tyrone after they ended the long years of Mickey Harte and won an All-Ireland under the fresh management of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher.

By the end of the league, Kilkenny had made a league semi-final and the same correspondent was glowing about Cody’s ability to make switches and change his approach.

And not a sign of a Mea Culpa anywhere.

Truth is, there’s too much coverage of this stuff. By that, I mean we get caught up not even in the whole length of the podcast, but in the seven-second clip where some talking head goes over the top entirely with praise, because they are desperate to be the one that ‘called it’ before anyone else.

And then we come to last Sunday.

Armagh had been well signposted. My own sense here is that in general, people are always glad of something new and fresh. Armagh are 20 years on from their only All-Ireland and given the way in which they revolutionised the game, fans of Gaelic football would only be too glad to see them return to the same level of prominence.

In another Championship preview, Darragh ÓSé was asked for his provincial champions pick. He went for Armagh.

Where do they sit now in the run of things after their seven-point mauling from Donegal?

I guess we are back to that old chestnut of not trusting the league.

Only the league? Yeah.

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