DONEGAL’S ace forward Yvonne Bonner believes that the experience of manager Maxi Curran in both the men’s and ladies game could take her side to another level this summer.
By Daragh Small
The reigning champions clash with Monaghan in the semi-final of the TG4 ladies Ulster football championship at Healy Park in Omagh on Saturday evening (7pm).
It’s Curran’s second stint in charge, having managed the Donegal ladies to an All-Ireland junior title in 2003.
He was also a selector with Rory Gallagher and was also involved in Jim McGuinness’ backroom team with the Donegal men.
Last year, the ladies won the Ulster title with a 4-11 to 0-15 victory over Monaghan at Clones.
And after a disappointing Lidl League campaign, Bonner says they can bounce back.
“It was a mixed bag in the League,” says prolific forward Bonner, who was named recently on the Lidl NFL Division 1 Team of the League.
“We were learning with the new management. We thought we were doing well but not making the last four was strange.
“Since I have come back from Australia in 2015, between Division 2 and Division 1 we have always been there or thereabouts.
“It was different this year but we got to practice a bit more. It was hard but we got to refocus on championship and got a lot of training in.
“It’s just a different approach. But we worked out a lot of things that you couldn’t go through if you had a lot of games. We could go hard then in training.
“We have Monaghan first. It will be another tight game and it’s always a battle against them. Armagh came out on the other side. It will be hard to retain Ulster but we are ready to give it a shot.
“It’s a lot of different strategies and tactics that Maxi has brought. A lot of learning that he has under his belt from working with the men through the years. It’s great to get that insight into their work.
“He has really brought that into our game. Hopefully we can express ourselves now on the field, show what we have been doing in training.”
Bonner made her debut for Donegal 16 years ago but the 31-year-old remains a big threat up front, and will lead the line against Monaghan again.
The Glenfin clubwoman scored 1-2 when Donegal defeated Monaghan 1-7 to 1-4 in the Lidl NFL in February, but she knows the Farney County will look for revenge.
“They are a great side. There wasn’t much in it when we played them last time. It’s only changed around these last few games where we got the better of them. You can’t slip up at all. Monaghan are still a great side,” said Bonner, who scored 1-1 against Monaghan in last year’s Ulster decider.
“They are very fit. They have great backs and midfielders and speed in their forward line too, and if our players aren’t on their game we’re in trouble.
“Our defenders did really well on them last time. There were missing a few in that league game too. They will be stronger in the championship. You can’t take much from a league game.
“It’s different when a game like this comes around.”