DECLAN Bonner struggled to think of a comparison as he surveyed the wreckage.
By Chris McNulty at The Athletic Grounds
Conor Madden’s late goal sealed a 1-13 to 0-12 win for the Breffni, but Donegal had been in grave difficulty right from the early moments of this final.
Bonner will remember a day to forget for some time.
“That’s the poorest performance I’ve had since I came back three years ago in terms of championship football,” Bonner said.
“It’s difficult to think on any positives. In any finals, in championship football, when you create your chances you have to take those chances.
“The goal we gave away was disappointing. A high ball that came in and we didn’t deal with it properly and it ended up in the net.
“We prepared for this the same as we did for Tyrone and Armagh – it was the exact same build up so it’s disappointing to come up with a flat performance like that.
“It’s a performance we didn’t see coming.”
Donegal, in a ninth Ulster final in ten years, were shellshocked and flat, bar a spell in the first half when Cavan were down to 14 men when Killian Brady was black carded.
Bonner said: “Over the whole 70 minutes Cavan looked like the hungrier side. We had a purple patch, when we kicked five on the trot when Cavan had a man black-carded. We didn’t kick on.
“Cavan stayed in the game and we knew they’d always be dangerous in the second half. Our performance in the second half wasn’t anywhere near the levels. Three points in a second half won’t win you an Ulster title.
“We’ve a disappointed dressing room and we’ve a lot of young lads in there, with the couple of more experienced players and it’s just not a nice place to be. We’ll have to go and regroup now and see where we go from here.”
Donegal hit five in a row during a spell when there was a flicker of a flame, but Cavan’s energy never waned. A black card for Madden opened the door for Donegal in the 53rd minute. Donegal ere 0-11 to 0-10 in front but when Madden returned the sums were level, 0-12 apiece.
Of Donegal’s three second-half points, only one arrived from play. Raymond Galligan, the Cavan goalkeeper, repelled efforts from Jamie Brennan and a last-gasp Ciarán Thompson drive.
Bonner said: “Cavan, in their matches to date, have conceded very little in their second halves and three points from us wasn’t good enough. You won’t win Ulster championships kicking three points in the second half. Cavan move on and deservedly won their first championship since 1997.
“Cavan were physical and they fought for every ball, which you expect in an Ulster final. The little breaks and the goal chances that we didn’t take, but overall Cavan deserved it. We can have no qualms. We have to go back and analyse where our performance came from and why it was so disappointing.”Tags: