Declan Bonner tried to reflect on a positive season but, in the wake of a seven-point loss to Tyrone, it was difficult.
By Chris McNulty in Ballybofey
Last year, when he succeeded Rory Gallagher as the Donegal manager, Bonner said winning Ulster and getting to the Super 8s was the big aim.
That was achieved, but he couldn’t help but feel that Donegal let slip a golden chance of reaching an All-Ireland semi-final.
Donegal were 1-11 to 0-10 up in the 54th minute here, thanks largely to Michael Murphy’s goal in the first-half, but Tyrone hit an avalanche of scores to set up a semi-final against Monaghan next weekend.
“We were playing well and I thought we were in control of the game,” Bonner said.
“There were four points in it and we were trying to push on. It’s just we gave ball away. We got sloppy at times and we just gave away a lot of ball in that final third. When you’re turned over against Tyrone – they’re going to attack you and that’s where goal came from. That’s the disappointing thing.
“The goal came at a crucial stage for Tyrone and we didn’t react well to it and the substitutions that came in for Tyrone made a difference. It’s a disappointing way to exit it
“We got too many balls turned over in that second half especially – eight or nine balls turned over – and you can’t do that against a quality side like Tyrone who will hit you on the counter attack.”
Donegal had avoided Tyrone on their way to winning Ulster, but they collided here in the biggest game ever to be played in Ballybofey.
An unbeaten 21-match streak, going back to 2010, was on the line, but Tyrone stormed the fortress in the second half, outscoring Donegal 2-11 to 0-7.
Bonner said: “This game was winnable. We had no fear going into this game. If we played to the level we knew we were capable of doing, and avoided those mistakes in terms of getting turned over you had a big chance, and ultimately that’s what let us down.
“We are disappointed, it is a very disappointed dressing room in there. There are a lot of young players in there. I’m sure they will learn a lot from it. We will sit back and analyse the situation but yeah, from our point of view it has been a very good season but we are just disappointed.
“A huge disappointment in there now but it has been a hugely positive season and we have to build on that there, have to learn from that type of game.”Tags: