Bonner hails resolve of Donegal’s young guns

Declan Bonner, the Donegal manager, commended the resolve shown by his young side as they came from four points down late on to overcame Meath in a frost-bitten Ballybofey on Saturday night.

Bonner hails resolve of Donegal’s young guns

Declan Bonner, the Donegal manager, commended the resolve shown by his young side as they came from four points down late on to overcame Meath in a frost-bitten Ballybofey on Saturday night.

The visitors were 0-14 to 0-10 in front with just 15 minutes to play and looked comfortable. It seemed that they just had to keep doing what they were doing. But they didn’t.

Donegal managed to squirm home a goal from Caolan McGonagle before Ciaran Thomspon’s fifth point of the evening levelled the scores at 1-11 to 0-14 with 10 minutes remaining.

Donegal had all the play from then on, but it took until injury time for Eoin McHugh to edge the hosts in front before Jamie Brennan made sure at the bitter end.

Meath failed to score in the final 16 minutes and the eight allotted injury-time to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.

Even after McHugh’s point, Thomas O’Reilly spurned a glorious chance to restore parity and goalscorer McGonagle made a telling late block.

“Four down going into the last quarter, it would have been easy for that young team to fold, but they stuck at it,” Bonner said.

“Those lads are in possession of the jerseys and it won’t be a case of anyone walking straight back in when other players come back.

It’s a work in progress, but the pleasing things were the resolve, desire and belief in the last ten minutes. There is a real resolve there.

Meath were 0-8 to 0-7 in front at the break, with Ethan Lynch’s point the one that ultimately split the teams at the break.

Donegal were struggling to deal with the support running of wing-backs James McEntee and Niall Kane and Meath’s Bryan Menton and Shane McEntee were dominant at midfield.

Only Ciarán Thompson, the scorer of four first-half points, was managing to give the Ulster champions any sort of cutting edge in attack although a point from Niall O’Donnell in the third quarter brought the teams back onto a level pegging.

Meath, though, were certainly the strongest in the third quarter and the centre-field pairing of Menton and McEntee scored, as did Michael Newman twice, to establish a four-point lead.

Daire Campion’s score on 54 minutes restored the four-point advantage at 0-14 to 0-10.

But that was that and from then on it was Donegal who seized the initiative.

McGonagle’s goal on 59 minutes, when he beat Meath goalkeeper Andrew Colgan in a race to a diagonal ball from Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher, proved to be the turning point.

“Robbed is probably the wrong word,” a deflated Andy McEntee, the Meath manager, said afterward.

“The truth of the matter is we played the majority of the football for the majority of the game, but unless you see it through, you suffer.

"Fellas are certainly suffering in there. We were there, four up with 15 minutes left on the clock and we looked comfortable. We switched off and once you lose momentum in games like this, it’s very hard to get it back. There were a lot of positives to be taken.

“We just didn’t finish the job.”

Scorers for Donegal:

C Thompson (2f) 0-5, N O’Donnell (2f) 0-3, C McGonagle 1-0, J Brennan 0-2, M Langan, M O’Reilly (1m), E McHugh 0-1 each.

Scorers for Meath:

D Campion, M Newman (2f) 0-3 each, J McEntee, S McEntee, N Kane 0-2 each, E Devine, B Menton 0-1 each.

DONEGAL:

M.A McGinley; C Morrison, B McCole, E Gallagher; C Ward, E Doherty, R McHugh; H McFadden, M Langan; N O’Donnell, C Thompson, C McGonagle; M O’Reilly, M McElhinney, J Brennan.

Subs:

L McLoone for Langan (h-t), J McGee for McElhinney (45), S McMenamin for O’Reilly (45), E McHugh for Doherty (67), P Brennan for O’Donnell (75).

MEATH:

A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, R Ryan; J McEntee, D Keogan, N Kane; B Menton, S McEntee; E Devine, B Brennan, B McMahon; D Campion, M Newman, T O’Reilly.

Subs:

C O’Sullivan for Brennan (h-t), G Reilly for Devine (47), J Conlon for McMahon (55), J Scully for Campion (67), M Burke for Newman (72).

Referee:

J Henry (Mayo)

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.