POINTEDLY, Declan Bonner referenced the ‘character’ of his Donegal team as they eked out a memorable Championship win over Derry.
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
A moment of magic by Patrick McBrearty in the fourth minute of added time secured a 0-16 to 0-15 win.
Donegal were behind for most of a gripping Ulster Championship quarter-final, but McBrearty pounced right at the end.
“It’s been thrown at this group about character and when we come down the winning straight that we are fairly brittle,” Bonner said.
“But that’s not the case. There is great character in this group, and we had shown it throughout the National League campaign, coming from big deficits and today was no different to be quite honest.
“We didn’t panic, the substitutions were important to us going in and yeah, the right man at the right time was Patrick McBrearty and he put up a brilliant score.”
Chrissy McKaigue had kept a close lid on McBrearty, but the Kilcar man kicked two points late in the evening to send Donegal through.
Bonner said: “There is no doubt, he was well marshalled and but, when you have Patrick McBrearty, he has the confidence in himself. Doesn’t matter how well he was playing, he was taking that shot on and it was a brilliant score.
“We had spoken about it going down to the wire to be honest. We knew what Derry was going to bring and they brought it in abundance.
“It was a real Ulster Championship match, I was just delighted, as I said in the hotel earlier on, if we come out of this with a one point win we would be delighted with it.”
Derry led by four points in the first half and the Oak Leaf were four in front again by 47th minute.
On a day when Michael Murphy had to come off the bench – the captain unable to start due to a hamstring injury – Donegal saw the likes of Caolan McGonagle and Niall O’Donnell carry the can with vital points.
Bonner said: “Those guys have training extremely well and they have all been huge parts of the group. They all really put in a big shift. It’s the strength in depth that we have and the subs coming off the bench did rightly.
“The lads dug in. We got some really good scores, Michael kicked a couple of frees and had a real steadying influence on it.
“In saying that, Derry were very, very good, there is no doubt about it. They are on the rise and they put in a serious, serious shift. Some unbelievable scores to be honest.”