New Donegal manager Declan Bonner has football in his DNA - Myles Sweeney

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

New Donegal manager Declan Bonner has football in his DNA - Myles Sweeney

Tom Comack @dgldemocrat

Myles Sweeney played football with Declan Bonner, both at school and at club level, and he believes that football is in Bonner's DNA.

The former Donegal and Dungloe player is not at all surprised that his former playing colleague went into coaching and management when his playing days were over.

“Declan has football running in his veins. It is in his DNA and I’m not at all surprised that he turned to management when his playing days were over,” said Myles, co-ordinator with the Donegal Sports Partnership.

“My memory of him from our playing days is that he was always calling the shots and having his say.

“I played with Declan both at Rosses Community School and with Rosses Rovers.

“He was only 15 or 16 at the time but he was always giving his opinion on games and teams. And on how we should play against teams and the tactics we should use.

“That was way back in a time when tactics weren’t talked about as much as they are nowadays.

“We had a very good group of players in Rosses Rovers at the time and Declan was one of the main men.

“We won county championships at U-14 and U16 and we also won a minor league.

“I remember one funny incident when we (Dungloe/Na Rossa) were playing Ardara in a minor game up in Ardara.

“We were winning by six or seven points at half-time. Jimmy ‘Nappy’ O’Donnell was the team manager.

“Declan was playing at midfield and I was playing at centre half-back. But Declan decided in the second half that we should switch without consulting with the manager.

“He went back to centre half-back and I went to midfield.

“I’m not sure if the switch had anything to do with it but Ardara came back in the second half and drew the game and indeed may have won it.

“I do remember afterwards Jimmy O’Donnell was not happy and he gave the two of us a right good telling off.

“In terms of his playing days he was always very fit and he had great stamina. He could run forever and never seemed to tire.

“Back then teams used to train a couple of nights a week and have a game at the weekend. But Declan was so committed he used to train another two to three nights on his own.

“He continued that when he moved on to the Donegal senior team. I often saw him out on the roads running on nights that Donegal weren’t playing and I know he was also down in Dooey practising his free taking and shooting practice.

“He was always very passionate as a player and he was also very competitive and was willing to put in the extra hard graft required to play football at the highest level.”

Myles Sweeney has no doubt either, but that Declan has the commitment and dedication to do his best for Donegal and be successful.

“I believe he will do well. He has the experience from before, even though the game has moved on. But he has been working with a lot of the good young footballers that are coming through to senior.

“He has won Ulster minor and U-21 with them and he knows them well.

“He was the right man for the job. We have a lot of talent coming through and as long as he is given the time and space he can be successful. It will take at least a couple of years to develop those young lads further so they are able to compete against the likes of Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone.

“It is also important now that he gets a good backroom team in place,” concluded Sweeney.