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'I'm only making comments on players we have here training and working with us' - Declan Bonner quiet on missing trio following Armagh loss

Armagh 0-14 Donegal 1-10

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Donegal Manager Declan Bonner  during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final match between Donegal and Armagh at Healy Park in Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Donegal Manager Declan Bonner during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final match between Donegal and Armagh at Healy Park in Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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Donegal’s Jamie Brennan attempts to get away from Armagh duo Ryan McShane and Mark Shields during their clash at Healy Park. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Donegal’s Jamie Brennan attempts to get away from Armagh duo Ryan McShane and Mark Shields during their clash at Healy Park. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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Donegal Manager Declan Bonner during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final match between Donegal and Armagh at Healy Park in Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Confusion reigned for Donegal fans yesterday with manager Declan Bonner appearing to leave Mark McHugh, Stephen McBrearty and Darach O'Connor out of the squad which lost narrowly to Armagh in Omagh.

The Donegal boss insisted the one-point defeat was "a good workout" for his experimental team, but refused to talk about the trio's inter-county futures. "I'm not making any comment on those (players)," he added.

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Michael Langan of Donegal in action against Stephen Sheridan of Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Michael Langan of Donegal in action against Stephen Sheridan of Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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McHugh won an All Star in 2012, while O'Connor has been a regular squad member in recent years. McBrearty, an Ulster minor winner in 2014 under Bonner, opted out of the panel in 2017 to spend the summer in America. The younger brother of star forward Patrick McBrearty returned last year.

When pressed on whether the players were unavailable, injured or dropped, Bonner replied: "Did you not hear me first time round?

"I'm only making comments on players we have here training and working with us."

It's not too often any team takes out Monaghan and Donegal in the one week, but Kieran McGeeney played down the significance of Armagh's back-to-back wins after booking a place in the final.

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Ryan McHugh of Donegal in action against Connaire Mackin of Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ryan McHugh of Donegal in action against Connaire Mackin of Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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After being level nine times with the outgoing champions in Healy Park, a point from Rory Grugan in the 69th minute put Armagh through to Saturday's decider against Tyrone.

"We'd understand that Donegal and Monaghan wouldn't be at full strength and they would probably be looking to learn more from that game than we were in terms of the league," said McGeeney.

"But it was still good for us. It gives us another game next week to see where we are and give other people game time."

McGeeney, who was playing for Armagh when they last won the McKenna Cup in 1994, fielded a much stronger line-up and his team played with a focus lacking in Donegal.

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Caolan McGonigle of Donegal in action against Jemar Hall and Niall Grimley of Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Caolan McGonigle of Donegal in action against Jemar Hall and Niall Grimley of Armagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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They were strangely off-key, but Bonner insisted they got everything they wanted from the competition.

"Everything we wanted to do in terms of the McKenna Cup, I think we got out of it in terms of preparation for the league."

Donegal were casual in possession and paid the price, as Armagh came from three points down to lead 0-9 to 1-5 at the break, Jason McGee palming home the Donegal goal after 23 minutes.

Jamie Brennan top-scored with 0-4 from play, but him aside, Donegal lacked any meaningful penetration, while Grugan, Stefan Campbell and Jemar Hall scored 0-8 between them.

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Rian O'Neill of Armagh in action against Jamie Brennan of Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Rian O'Neill of Armagh in action against Jamie Brennan of Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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Scorers - Armagh: N Grimley 0-4 (3f), R Grugan (1f), S Campbell 0-3 each, J Hall 0-2, R O'Neill, S Sheridan 0-1 each. Donegal: J McGee 1-1, J Brennan 0-4, M Langan, C Thompson 0-2 (1f) each, C McGonigle 0-1.

Armagh - B Hughes; C Mackin, R Kennedy, J Morgan; M Shields, B Donaghy, A Forker; S Sheridan, N Grimley; J Hall, R Grugan, R McShane; S Campbell, R O'Neill, J Clarke. Subs: G McCabe for Forker (10), J Og Burns for O'Neill (60), J McElroy for McShane (64), C Vernon for Hall (69), J Grugan for Campbell (70).

Donegal - MA McGinley; C Ward, B McCole, C Morrison; R McHugh, T McClenaghan, P Brennan; H McFadden, J McGee; M McElhinney, N O'Donnell, C McGonigle; C Thompson, M Langan, J Brennan. Subs: E Doherty for Morrison (HT), M O'Reilly for O'Donnell (49), P Mogan for McClenaghan (49), O Gallen for McElhinney (60).

Ref - P Faloon (Down)

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