Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
Success at last! Declan Bonner could develop a liking for the Athletic Grounds. His U-21s had success there last year in the Ulster final and on Saturday night his so called fringe players showed that they are somewhat better than their counterparts that wear the Red Hand jersey.
And while this was a most welcome and satisfactory win after a few weeks of near misses, team manager Bonner was quick to put this victory in context.
“It was a good test, a good match and Donegal and Tyrone is always a good tussle and it’s always nice to get a victory”.
But when asked if he would take much from this victory for the League encounter against Tyrone on Saturday night week, he was quite emphatic:
“No, we will just take every game as it comes, we have a lot of new players and players coming in and Mickey Harte was trying out a few players.
“But there was still a high tempo, high intensity game with no quarter asked or given which is only what you would expect from Donegal and Tyrone matches”.
And he agreed that this encounter was full out attack for much of the match.
“Both teams went at it and in fairness it is the way you like to see Gaelic football played.
“It does not always happen like that but both teams went out for victory.
“We know it will be a different story in a few weeks time when there are important league points at stake.
“So today we will move on and get ready for Kildare next weekend”.
Donegal have key players back in action and this was a real “positive” for Bonner and Donegal.
“Michael Murphy, Frank McGlynn, Martin McElhinney and Neil McGee were all back on the park and that is a real positive for us.
“The more game time they get the stronger they are going to get.
“There are also a lot of good young lads coming through and the McKenna Cup has been brilliant for them and they will be nailing down places definitely within the squad and will be pushing close to that first fifteen”.
Saturday night’s victory came on the back of some frustrating defeats so was this success is a real confidence booster?
“We are building on it, but we are not getting carried away and we are back in training for Kildare.
“This will be a vitally important match and we did say at the start of the campaign that it was not going to be the end of the world if we did go down, but we still want to be in Division One.
“And we still want to be competitive in Division One.
“It is a competitive place to be.
“So hopefully this win will give the lads a lift to drive on”.
Bonner said he was happy with the new lads like Dáire O’Baoill, Conor Morrison and substitute Niall O’Donnell who really impressed.
“Yes I know those lads very well from having them at minor and U-21 level and I know what they are capable of and you have to nurture them along.
“They came in and did a very good job tonight in a really competitive match,” said Bonner.