Monday 19 August 2019

'Discipline is huge' for Bonner as Donegal plan yellow-card strategy

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

Chris McNulty

Donegal manager Declan Bonner says that his players face the risk of being substituted if they are booked early in Saturday's Ulster semi-final with Tyrone.

The Northern heavyweights collide at Breffni Park for an eighth championship clash in nine years and Bonner insists he'll be taking no chances.

The mercury rarely takes long to rise when these teams meet, but Bonner says that his players mustn't be left treading on a disciplinary tightrope.

"Discipline is huge," Bonner says.

"At this stage, picking up a yellow card, you'll be looking over the shoulder. An early card probably means you'll be substituted. That's just the way, because you can't afford to lose men.

"Discipline will be a huge factor and it's something that we're always talking about in the group."

Last year Tyrone condemned Donegal to a first league or championship loss in Ballybofey in eight years, as the Red Hands stormed to a 'Super 8s' win that saw them into the All-Ireland semi-finals.

David Gough will referee Saturday's meeting between the sides.

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Bonner said: "David will do his job and he's an experienced referee.

"It's a battle of the heavyweights. It's the game that everyone has been waiting for. It's a huge game and it'll come down to fine margins.

"There's a good rivalry and the two teams know each other reasonably well.

"It's a big, big game in a really good championship.

"It'll be a really good match. Both teams will play in the proper way. Yeah, there'll be an edge to it. It's the Ulster Championship and you expect nothing less. It's one to look forward to."

Donegal, who put their Ulster title on the line, will again be without Oisín Gallen (shoulder) and Caolan McGonagle (leg). Both missed their quarter-final win over Fermanagh.

Bonner said: "Injuries are part and parcel of the game and we're happy enough with the group that we have.

"We came out of Brewster Park after the Fermanagh game and straight into training again for the Tyrone game. We had no time to dwell on anything."

Tyrone have won the last three championship meetings, while Donegal had triumphed the previous four times their paths crossed.

Bonner said: "We are going in as underdogs, but it's a challenge that the lads are looking forward to.

"Tyrone are maybe ahead slightly after being in the All-Ireland final last year. They're in the top two or three teams in the country and we have to get there."

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