Sunday 15 September 2019

Bonner: Kerry have given hope to Dubs' rivals

Donegal manager Declan Bonner. Photo: Sportsfile
Donegal manager Declan Bonner. Photo: Sportsfile Sportdesk

Kerry's compelling duel with Dublin last Sunday has given hope to football's chasing pack, according to Donegal boss Declan Bonner.

The Ulster champions were dumped out of the championship by Mayo this summer, but Bonner - whose term was extended by another year to 2021 on Monday - admits the drawn All-Ireland final will give belief to other counties.

"Yes, of course, that is the standard and Kerry are going to be there as they have a young, up-and-coming team," he said. "Dublin are still the benchmark - last Sunday and our own game against Kerry were brilliant for Gaelic football.

"We are back in Division 1 playing the top teams, that is where we want to be to move on."

So was there a small sense that maybe Donegal could have been there? Bonner did not directly comment on this but pointed to a number of injuries at key stages which did not help Donegal's cause.

"There are a few things you need to be successful, a good united management team, a united bunch of players and that bit of luck.

"We had been pretty injury-free in the Ulster campaign, but between the Meath and Kerry match we picked up four/five injuries and then we lost Hugh McFadden and Jason McGee in the first half against Kerry.

"That was probably a mountain just too far for us. We are not using that as an excuse for getting beaten down in Mayo, but it did not help in terms of our preparation.

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"It is a learning curve and a lot of these young lads would have learned from Castlebar and the work for us starts now."

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