DECLAN Bonner remains hopeful of having a full-strength Donegal squad to choose from when the defence of their Ulster SFC crown belatedly gets underway in a fortnight.
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
As November and the delayed Ulster Championship looms in this strangest of years, Bonner yesterday saw his side defeat Tyrone 2-17 to 2-13 in Ballybofey; a result that means Donegal will stay in the top flight for 2021.
Picture: The Donegal team lines up before the game against Tyrone. Picture by Geraldine Diver.
A final League game of the term – away at Kerry on Saturday – dons something of a dead rubber feel, particularly given that it will be eight days away from the big day.
On November 1, Donegal welcome Tyrone to Sean MacCumhaill Park again to begin their bid for a third successive Ulster title.
Patrick McBrearty and Michael Langan weren’t on the squad yesterday. McBrearty limped out of a challenge game win over Roscommon the previous week and Langan was troubled by an injury during St Michael’s Donegal SFC campaign.
“The injuries aren’t bad, just niggles,” Bonner said.
“They’re carrying knocks at the minute and we hope we can get them ready.
“That’s a challenge for the medical team. They’re not far away and should be fine.”
Peadar Mogan and Jamie Brennan were the goalscorers as Donegal came back from a seven-and-a-half-month lay-off with an encouraging win.
As the country braces itself for a Government announcement regarding further Covid-19 restrictions today, there are again question marks surrounding the future of the inter-county season.
Bonner said: “The only thing that we keep an eye on is what is in our control. We’ve always been confident that there’d be a Championship.
“You can see the amount of people ringing and texting, delighted that we are back playing football. It’s something bright in the doom and gloom. There are Donegal people all over the world and this has brought something back to them, some positivity. Hopefully they’re happy with the performance.”
Even in defeat, Bonner’s opposite number, Mickey Harte, expressed hope that he’d be back by the Finn in two weeks’ time.
“I hope there is a Championship – as long as it is safe to do so,” the veteran Tyrone manager said.
“The public at large need an autumn of good football. They’ll get that whatever teams are in it. They’ll get excitement, they’ll get entertainment and something to turn their minds from this Covid business.
“People enjoy their football. They need something to look forward to. It would be a pity to take that away. if the powers that be decide there is no alternative, then we can’t argue with that.”
The usual noise was absent from the terraces, save for the echoes of those who watched either from behind the fence or, in the case of one supporter, from a cherry picker parked behind the Town End goals.
Tyrone will be without long-term injury victim Cathal McShane for the Championship tussle, but Harte says the absence of Peter Harte was a precaution.
The Tyrone manager added: “It was good to get a competitive game after being out of action. There’s no better place to come looking for a competitive game. It’s been good for the players, but it’ll bring Donegal on too.”Tags: