Donegal would do the same again if they were to play last Sunday’s All-Ireland Minor final all over again

Declan Bonner, the Donegal minor manager, would not have changed a thing in terms of team or game plan if Donegal were to face Kerry again.

Declan Bonner, the Donegal minor manager, would not have changed a thing in terms of team or game plan if Donegal were to face Kerry again.

“Absolutely not,” was the Na Rossa man’s response to the question if there was anything he would do differently if he was to get another crack at Jack O’Connor’s Kerry.

Speaking in Donegal Town at the homecoming on Monday night, the Donegal boss insisted that he and his management team felt they got their selection, tactics and preparations spot in the county’s first tilt at All-Ireland minor glory.

“I met my management team last night and we are satisfied that we got our team selection and tactics right,” said the Donegal boss.

“We picked the players that were going well in training and that is how it was. Some players were unfortunate things did not go well for them in the game but that can happen in games and there is nothing you can do about it.

“There is one thing you do as a manager is to stick to your decisions and plans. There are times afterwards you might think you would have done different.

“The players that started yesterday deserved to start and the players that came off the bench deserved to get a run.

“They were the players going well in training and they all deserved to be there and they all gave it 100% on the day. It is just that things did not go well.

“There wasn’t an awful lot between the two teams. We knew going into the game that we needed to produce our A game just like we did against Dublin in the semi-final.

“Dublin were equally as good as Kerry and we probably got the rub of the green against Dublin and we didn’t get it yesterday.”

The 1992 All-Ireland winner insisted despite the four point defeat that the Donegal minors can hold their heads high.

“They have done Donegal proud all year and they have enjoyed the most successful summer any Donegal minor side have experienced. They got to a stage in the championship that we have never been in before.

“It is unfortunate that we didn’t get over the line. I believed in this bunch of players, I believed they could win but unfortunately they didn’t and they have now to move on.

“These guys will be better players; it is a bitter pillow to swallow right now. The wounds are still very raw but I still think a lot of these guys will move on and will represent Donegal in the future at U-21 and senior level.

“Six or seven of them are underage again next year and we had a good under 17 team this year and there is a lot of good work going on in the county.

“This work has to continue because we need a conveyor belt of talent coming through from under age all the time.” Bonner has completed his first season as the Donegal minor manager but has been working with this group of players for the past three seasons. Indeed he has been involved with a number of them for four years, since his time assisting Paddy Hegarty with the Southern U-15 Development squad.

However, the former senior manager was non committal as to whether he was going to remain on in the position.

He is going to take some time to reflect before meeting county officials next month to decide on whether or not he will be guiding Donegal minors again in 2015.

Reflecting on the game and the 0-17 to 1-10 defeat to Kerry, Bonner was still finding it difficult to accept that they had lost the game.

“It is still a bitter pill to swallow. These lads haven’t suffered many defeats playing for Donegal and it was difficult to take. Yesterday’s defeat was the first competitive game they lost in three seasons.

“We went out, we had our game plans, we had our expectations. The word defeat was never mentioned or entered our heads. We went out fully convinced that we could beat Kerry.

“We knew it was going to be very difficult. We knew Kerry were going to be hard to beat. They are a very good side.

“We knew we had to be on our game and we knew when the scoring chances arose we had to take them. Unfortunately we did not take all the chances that we created throughout the game and especially a number of chances we had near the end. And in the end we paid the price and came up short.

“But we have to hand it to Kerry. Unfortunately, there has to be winners and losers and maybe overall over the 60/62 minutes, Kerry were the better side and probably deserved their victory.”

Bonner also paid tribute to the Donegal supporters who he hailed as the best supporters in the country.

“They have supported us in large numbers all year and that support was a great help to us especially in the semi-final against Dublin.

“On Sunday night we had 1,800 people sitting down for a meal at the banquet in the City West Hotel and another 1,000 people attending afterwards.

“In all there were almost 3,000 Donegal supporters and not a bad word being said and all these lads will remember this.

“As a result they will want to play senior football for Donegal. They will want to get back to Croke Park, and they will want to win honours in the future. I have no doubt a number of them will and Sunday’s experience will stand to them.”