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Bonner disappointed with Down's lack of fight

 

By Declan Bogue

Donegal manager Declan Bonner looked almost crestfallen that Down didn't give his team more of a challenge here in Clones.

In three games over the Ulster Championship, Donegal have run up 2-16, 2-20 and now 2-22 wins against Cavan, Derry and Down. It's an aggregate of 6-58 and quite a riposte to those that say they own the patent in defensive football since Jim McGuinness unveiled his grisly vision on that swampy day in Ballybofey as they ground out a win over Antrim in 2011.

"You play what is in front of you. You go out and do a professional job and the lads have done that - we just get ready now for Sunday week," said Bonner.

Sunday week will be a meeting with Fermanagh and - by golly - that game looks tasty now. Not in a wholesome sense either.

When it was put to him that Rory Gallagher will know all there is to know about the Donegal lads, Bonner answered: "It works both ways and we can only look after our end of it - and that's basically it.

"I'm sure Rory will look after his end of it. It makes for an exciting couple of weeks in the build up - it's a great place to be - Clones on Ulster final day. That's where every player wants to be and we'll be back in two weeks time."

And before that game, he expresses his concern for the treatment that star man Ryan McHugh is subjected to, having been on the end of some wreckless challenges early on here.

"Sometimes I am looking at linesmen, and they pick up on X, Y and Z and I'm looking at Michael Murphy and Ryan McHugh being pulled and dragged off the ball and they don't do anything," fumed Bonner.

"There were a number of high challenges on Ryan today. He is targeted in every game, and he is going to be, and it is a concern, and he has to be protected."

Such was the lack of fight, the proliferation of basic errors and the inertia that gripped Down, that they were an irrelevance to the game early on.

Manager Eamonn Burns struggled to explain it away, saying: "It was a combination of a whole lot of things. We had difficulty getting our kick out away, especially in the first half and then Donegal were very clinical.

"We created a few chances early on in the first half that we didn't take and then they started to ease away from us. They got the goal, very fortunately, the ball came off the post, he grabbed it and was able to turn our defender and put it in the net."

He also bemoaned their inability to take advantage of being a man up after Neil McGee was sent off after 13 minutes.

"They're a very experienced side, they know how to play with 14-men," he said.

"They're well organised up the field and they leave two men up the field who are very potent so they handled that situation quite well. We had a couple of chances we probably could've taken that might have eased us a bit closer to them at half time.

"At the start of the second half we'd a lot of possession, got nothing off it and then they got a couple of scores. The game was starting to move away from us at that stage."

All they have now is the backdoor to look forward to.

Belfast Telegraph

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