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Bonner drawing comfort after thrilling stalemate

Donegal 1-20 Kerry 1-20

Full respect: Donegal manager Declan Bonner (left) with Kerry boss Peter Keane after the thrilling draw at Croke Park yesterday
Full respect: Donegal manager Declan Bonner (left) with Kerry boss Peter Keane after the thrilling draw at Croke Park yesterday

By Chris McNulty

Declan Bonner was emotionally drained as he assessed Donegal's "epic" draw with Kerry at Croke Park.

Michael Murphy's ice-cool free in injury time secured a share of the spoils from a dramatic 1-20 apiece stalemate, during which the teams were level 15 times.

"The draw was a fair result," Donegal boss Bonner said.

"It was an epic battle out there.

"We went toe-to-toe with Kerry, one of the top teams in the country and probably the most dynamic front six in the country. I thought the lads went really hard at it."

It was Murphy who netted the 52nd-minute penalty that helped Donegal recover from the body blow of a Paul Geaney goal for Kerry on 44 minutes that threatened to derail depleted Tir Chonaill.

Ciaran Thompson and Caolan Ward got their wires crossed and Geaney was on the loose ball like a flash.

Geaney surged in to beat Shaun Patton with a fine finish to the bottom corner of the Hill 16 net.

Two Murphy frees - both of which the Glenswilly man converted from around 50m - had just put Donegal in front for the first time since the 10th minute when Geaney's goal arrived like a dose of smelling salts.

But Murphy tucked home a penalty after Daire Ó Baoill was fouled by Stephen O'Brien.

Kerry led 0-10 to 0-9 at half-time and the goals really sparked the afternoon to life.

Donegal were left to rue a spurned chance when, in the moments after Murphy's penalty, Eoin McHugh - fed by Frank McGlynn - saw a goal chalked off for a square ball infringement.

Donegal were without Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath, while Bonner had to replace Jason McGee and Hugh McFadden, who limped out of the action.

The Donegal manager said: "The one thing it'll do is give great belief to the squad.

"We were down a number of players, but we have belief that any player can go in and do a job.

"To a man, the 21 players left everything on the pitch. We showed great character. We could have wilted there in the last quarter, but we stuck at it. The group put in a huge shift."

Kerry sub Tomás Ó Sé was red carded deep into added time at the end, just a minute after coming on. Seven times from the 59th minute the scores were even with Murphy sailing over the final point of the evening.

While a draw is not the result either side was looking for, both Kerry and Donegal will be pleased with their performance in what was undoubtedly the best game of this year's Super 8s.

Donegal: S Patton; C Ward, S McMenamin, O McFadden-Ferry; R McHugh (0-2), E Doherty, E McHugh; H McFadden, J McGee (0-1); C Thompson, N O'Donnell (0-1), Michael Langan (0-2); P McBrearty (0-5, 3f), M Murphy (1-7, 1-0pen, 4f), J Brennan. Subs: D Ó Baoill for McGee (24), O Gallen (0-2) for O'Donnell (black card, 35), F McGlynn for McFadden (38), P Brennan for Doherty (47), Brendan McCole for McFadden-Ferry (63), L McLoone for Thompson (69).

Kerry: S Ryan; J Foley (0-1), T Morley, T O'Sullivan (0-1); P Murphy (0-1), G Crowley, S Enright; A Spillane, D O'Connor; G White, S O'Shea (0-4, 3f), K Spillane (0-3); D Clifford (0-3, 1f), P Geaney (1-4), S O'Brien (0-3). Subs: J Lyne for White (black card, 34), J Sherwood for O'Connor (44), M Griffin for Enright (56), G O'Sullivan for Crowley (63), M Burns for A.Spillane (68), T Ó Sé for K.Spillane (70+3).

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).

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