Declan Bonner slams 'crazy' new rules as Donegal ease to McKenna Cup win over Queen's
Dr McKenna Cup - Donegal 0-21 Queen's 0-11
Stephen Rochford’s prints were all over Donegal as they began the new campaign with a routine win over Queen's.
The former Mayo manager has been recruited to Declan Bonner’s staff as head coach.
Having guided Mayo to two All-Ireland finals, Rochford’s addition is seen as a big coup for Bonner.
Rochford was in the thick of Donegal’s preparation here, taking the lead role in the warm-up before an easy rout of a below-par Queen’s side.
Rochford recently described the decision to take up Bonner’s invitation as "easy", noting that: "The opportunity to work with these guys was the carrot that was too big to turn down."
Rochford is happiest when he is coaching and, though this might 'only' have been a late December McKenna Cup tie, with most of Donegal’s heavy artillery still in cold storage, the Ballinrobe man looked quite at home here.
Rochford watched the game from a vantage point in the upper tier of the press box as Donegal dominated the students, whose manager Shane Mulholland lamented several absentees due to their county managers refusing to release them for the game.
Even in spite of several high-profile absentees, it was a strong Donegal side – including Shaun Patton, Hugh McFadden, Michael Langan, Ciarán Thompson and Jamie Brennan, who had played in the 2018 Ulster final win over Fermanagh – that lined out.
Langan, who scored three first-half points for the hosts, cannoned off the crossbar around the quarter-hour mark before Donegal took control. Donegal hit six points in a dominant phase, with the returned Eoin McHugh and Jason McGee – back after opting out of the senior panel for the 2018 season – prominent during those moments.
After the game, Bonner hit out at the GAA’s experimental rules, which he felt have inhibited the creation of goal chances.
"It’s such a waste of time," Bonner said.
"It’s crazy. I don’t know how ten men can sit around a table and decide the three handpasses rule.
"There were no goals in the game and I think that’s one of the reasons.
"Normally we’d have men coming off the shoulder to finish it off.
"The new rule makes it very difficult. The boys are very wary and this is doing nothing for the game.
"There was confusion with the mark, too. The first ball that went in, some fella (Queen’s Kieran Hughes) caught the ball around our square, the next thing the referee blew the whistle and, f*** me, where are we going?
"They can’t have much to do."
Late in the first half, Patton turned away a powerful effort from Ryan Treanor, who flicked over when the subsequent '45 by Hughes dropped into his path.
Langan would later become the first Donegal player sin-binned, but came on to kick the game’s last point.
SCORERS – Donegal: M Langan (3f) 0-5, C Thompson (2f) 0-4, L Connor (1f) 0-3, E McHugh, C McGonagle, H McFadden 0-2 each, P Brennan, M O'Reilly, P Mogan 0-1 each. Queen’s: R Treanor (1f) 0-4, C O'Neill 0-2, M Loughran, C Martin, K Hughes (f), E Deane, D Guinness 0-1 each
Donegal – S Patton; B McCole, C Ward, C Morrison; E McHugh, E Doherty, P Mogan; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, N O'Donnell, C McGonagle; L Connor, M Langan, J Brennan. Subs: C Diver for O'Donnell (h-t), P Brennan for Mogan (42), T McClenaghan for Doherty (44), M McElhinney for McGee (48), M O'Reilly (0-1) for Morrison (56).
Queen's – A Hasson; A Rushe, O Lappin, C McCloskey; M Loughran, J Rice, C Cox; E Deane, R Campbell; R Treanor, C Martin, C O'Neill; C O'Neill, K Hughes, D Guinness. Subs: N Hannigan for Loughran (44), B Gallen for Cox (50), R Connery for Campbell (56), P O'Connor for Martin (58), N Allison for Deane (60).
Ref – N McKenna (Monaghan)