Tom Comack email@example.com @dgldemocrat
Donegal manager Declan Bonner dedicated Monday night’s Ulster U-21 final victory over Derry to the team’s goalkeeping coach Pat Shovelin.
Donegal defeated the Oak Leaf County by 13 points, 3-17 to 0-13 with Lorcan Connor, Michael Carroll and Ethan O’Donnell scoring the goals, to claim an eighth Ulster U-21 title.
And speaking afterwards to the Democrat, the Donegal boss said: “We did it for Pat Shovelin.”
Pat Shovelin is the team goalkeeping coach and is currently receiving treatment for cancer in Letterkenny University Hospital.
Pat left his hospital bed on Monday evening to be with the team in Armagh, and he put the goalkeepers through their warm up before the game.
“Pat is special. He is going through a difficult time at the minute,” Bonner said.
“He is back in hospital tomorrow morning but he wanted to be here this evening and he was here.
“That was a huge lift to the lads and let’s hope we can get over the line for Pat and for the whole group on Saturday.
“There is a close bond between Pat and all the players and management and it was great to have him here with us.”
Ardara clubman Pat joined Declan Bonner’s backroom team at the start of the season. He was previously the goalkeeping coach when Donegal last won the Ulster U-21 championship.
That was in 2010 under Jim McGuinness and he was also Jim’s goalkeeping coach during his term as senior manager including the All-Ireland senior championship winning year 2012.
“That win this evening was for Pat and let’s hope we can get to an All-Ireland final for him.”
Bonner was also high in praise for all of his backroom team, “for their professionalism and dedication to their roles and responsibilities with the management team.”
Reflecting on the game overall and the 13 point win, he said it was a good, hard working performance.
“Sometimes in football you have to earn the right to play in finals and I think tonight we earned that right,” insisted the Donegal boss.
“We worked hard in the first half even though we didn’t play that particularly well and our decision making wasn’t good.
“But the goal before half-time was a big score and we got them in at half-time and I think the second half was a really controlled performance.”
Donegal led Derry 1-8 to 0-7 at half-time but came out in the second half and took control and outscored Derry 2-9 to 0-6.
“The message at half-time was a simple one. We needed to up our work rate in the middle third and our decision making had to be better in the final third.
“They took on board what we said at half-time.
“In terms of our discipline and our tackling it was good in the second half and we did not concede many scorable frees.
“Lorcan’s goal before half-time was a vital score because we had missed a goal chance earlier when Tony McCleneghan had a chance.
“A goal at that stage would have put us four or five ahead. But we missed that opportunity and it seemed to lift Derry, and they got back into it and really ran at us and took the lead.”
Bonner was not at all surprised that Derry recovered from a slow start and matched Donegal for the bulk of the first half.
“Derry are a good side and they really put it up to us in the first half.
“We were expecting that; they have always put it up to us coming through the age groups, U-16, U-17 and minor.
“They were the one team in Ulster that have tested us down the years.
“We always got over the line but only just and that there tonight was the biggest winning margin we’ve had against them.
“I felt for long periods that Derry played well in the first half and the sending off of Shane McGuigan was a big loss to them too.”