Unprecedented success for Donegal minors under Declan Bonner

Unprecedented success for Donegal minors under Declan Bonner
The results carried in box on this page underline just how successful a period we have enjoyed at minor level under Declan Bonner.

The results carried in box on this page underline just how successful a period we have enjoyed at minor level under Declan Bonner.

Of the 20 games played in 2014/2015, Donegal have won 19 - the only blemish being the All-Ireland final last year against Kerry.

On Sunday evening last the Donegal team took another major step to retaining their Ulster Minor Championship title with a comprehensive win over Armagh in the Athletic Grounds by 2-14 to 0-7.

It was a good test for this talented bunch because Armagh, as they knew they would, put it up to them in the physical stakes, but they came through with flying colours.

In doing so, the Donegal players were challenged as regards retaining possession with Armagh dispossessing them on a number of occasions. In that regard it was a great experience for many of the Donegal side.

The management, like the players, are also on a learning curve and there were a couple of changes from the Tyrone game and also a number of positional switches during Sunday’s game.

Already comparisons are being made with the 2014 side, but that is always a difficult thing to do. Like all teams, winning is a good habit and the 2015 side have six of last year’s successful team on board. That experience makes for a confident side who believe in their own ability and they take the field feeling they can win any game.

On Sunday Jason McGee made his debut and looked at home around the middle of the field. The standard of foot passing from McGee, Michael Langan and Michael Carroll to the inside men was impressive and augurs well for the upcoming games.

Rory Carr started at midfield for the throw-up but then moved to the full-forward line where he was a magnet for the ball, winning anything that came his way, albeit the supply was accurate and well placed. Carr proved a handful for the Armagh defence and alongside him Conor Doherty was immaculate. His tally of 0-7, five from play, does not include the number of other scores he was involved in.

Rory Carr’s long range dead ball skill is something which could be a real factor before the season comes to a conclusion. Just like he did against Tyrone, he stroked over a ‘45’, which is something special to have in the team’s armoury.

There were plenty of other five-star performances, not least the O’Baoills from Gaoth Dobhair, who were the goalscorers. Both were carrying injuries into the game and the four week break to the Ulster semi-final will give them time to get fully prepared, though it’s doubtful if Naoise can add any seconds to his sprint times!

Danny Rodgers, apart from one or two wayward kick-outs, was commanding under a pretty relentless high-ball game that Armagh employed and full-back Stephen McMenamin continues to develop into a Neil McGee lookalike. His strong runs out of defence are a great way of relieving pressure.

The Donegal management started with Philip McNern on Sunday and he repaid their faith with a no-nonsense approach. He was strong in the tackle and will be hard to displace.

Ethan O’Donnell will also benefit from the four-week break and the good thing is there is much more to come from the Naomh Conaill man as he recovers from the heavy knock he took in the Tyrone game.

Overall, the Donegal management will be very happy with the development of the side. The work being put in behind the scenes is impressive and the Donegal supporters should be thankful for that.

On Sunday there was some pretty loud music coming from the Donegal dressing room prior to them taking the field. I’m sure it was something from the modern era, but whatever it was, it had the desired effect.

No doubt, a presentation package of music and tactics is being prepared for the Ulster semi-final clash against Derry or Down on Saturday, 27th June in Clones. Hopefully, it will be a double header with the Donegal seniors in action as well!

But so far, it has been a thoroughly successful period for Declan Bonner and his minors. The success achieved is unprecedented and the expectation is even more exciting.

Ulster Minor League 2014

Donegal 1-16, Fermanagh 0-5

Donegal 1-11, Tyrone 2-6

Donegal v Derry (conceded by Derry)

Donegal 5.15, Antrim 0-8

Donegal 1-9, Armagh 0-5

Donegal 1-15, Derry 2-7

2014 Championship

Donegal 1-10, Derry 0-8

Donegal 2-19, Antrim 1-10

Donegal 2-12, Armagh 0-10

Donegal 0-10, Roscommon 1-5

Donegal 1-12, Dublin 1-11

Donegal 1-10, Kerry 0-17

Ulster Minor League 2015

Donegal 5-23, Fermanagh 1-4

Donegal 1-16, Tyrone 0-7

Donegal 4-18, Derry 3-7

Donegal 1-6, Antrim 1-3

Donegal 3-10, Down 1-8

Donegal 2-14, Derry 1-11

Championship

Donegal 1-11, Tyrone 0-8

Donegal 2-14, Armagh 0-7