Done' deal as Bonner’s men carry a threat
Declan Bonner admits that newly-crowned Ulster SFC champions Donegal will “have to get better and go to the next level” if they are to trouble reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin in the Super 8s .
First-half goals from Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Ryan McHugh helped Bonner’s men to comfortably unlock Fermanagh’s mass defence and secure their ninth provincial crown with 12 points to spare.
Donegal will renew acquaintances with Jim Gavin’s Dubs in Croke Park on July 14/15 but despite another magnificent attacking display, Bonner acknowledges that they are still “a work in progress”.
“You’re only as good as your last game and we have to move on and these guys have to get better and go to the next level now. It’s a work in progress, but we still have a long way to go to be the finished article,” he said.
With Gallagher and McHugh bombing forward from defence, they held an eight-point half-time lead (2-7 to 0-5) as Fermanagh struggled to deal with their pace and power.
Fermanagh weren’t off the mark from play until Eoin Donnelly scored in the 30th minute as Michael Langan and Ciarán Thompson ran riot at the other end for Donegal – who had 13 different scorers.
Bonner became just the third Donegal manager to lead them to Ulster SFC glory – joining the elite company of Brian McEniff and Jim McGuinness.
Michael Murphy has been skipper on four occasions and the inspirational Glenswilly clubman was delighted to consigned the demons of last year to a dark corner – when they lost the Ulster final to Tyrone and fell meekly to Galway in the Qualifiers.
“I suppose last year we had a team I suppose that was getting a bit tired, we’d some of the older players still around. They were two very heavy defeats to take for us all, whether young or old, against two very big teams,” Murphy said. “Learnings were taken and taken very well by a lot of the younger lads and we pushed on and pushed forward again. That’s what you have to do, you either give up and not play or you come back again year.”
SCORERS – Donegal: M Murphy 0-4 (3f), EB Gallagher 1-1, C Thompson 0-3 (1f), R McHugh 1-0, P Brennan 0-2, P McGrath, D O’Connor, O MacNiallais, M Langan, P McBrearty, J Brennan, C Mulligan, M McHugh 0-1 each. Fermanagh: Seán Quigley 0-4 (4f), Seamus Quigley 0-3 (1f), E Donnelly, C Corrigan, B Mulrone, C Jones, R Corrigan 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: S Patton; P McGrath, S McMenamin, EB Gallagher; F McGlynn, P Brennan, R McHugh; H McFadden, M Murphy; L McLoone, M Langan, O Mac Niallais; C Thompson, P McBrearty, J Brennan. Subs: D O Baoill for McBrearty (39, inj), C Ward for P Brennan (57), A Thompson for Mac Niallais (61), C Mulligan for Langan (64), M McHugh for C Thompson (65), D O’Connor for J Brennan (68).
FERMANAGH: P Cadden; K Connor, C Cullen, M Jones; B Mulrone, J McMahon, L Cullen; E Donnelly, R Jones; P McCusker, D McCusker, A Breen; S Quigley, C Jones, C Corrigan. Subs: E McHugh for Connor (33), C McManus for M Jones (half time black card), Seamus Quigley for P McCusker (half time), T Clarke for Corrigan (45), R Corrigan for Seán Quigley (57), D Teague for D McCusker (67).
REF: D Gough (Meath).