No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

Declan Bonner: Keep an eye for on-a-mission Kingdom

The Kerry team, led by captain Fionn Fitzgerald, line up for the pre-match parade at last Sunday's Munster final against Cork

The Kerry team, led by captain Fionn Fitzgerald, line up for the pre-match parade at last Sunday’s Munster final against Cork

KERRY aren’t going away.

They were really impressive in Sunday’s Munster final win over Cork. Right through the team, Kerry had stars.


This, remember, is a Kerry team that no longer can call upon the masterful Tomas Ó Sé or the mercurial Paul Galvin. And, of course, the magical Colm Cooper is recuperating from his cruciate injury.

A lot of other guys are stepping up now. James O’Donoghue had a good season in 2013, but he was just outstanding on Sunday. His was as good an individual performance as you’ll see. Greaney in at corner-forward was another who was excellent. He has been dogged by injury, but he seems to be over those.

They’ve unearthed a new ‘keeper in Brian Kelly and Brendan Kealy will find it hard to reclaim the number 1 jersey.

Declan O’Sullivan is a forward who can beat any team on his day and Kieran Donaghy was able to come off the bench. Johnny Buckley had a fine game at centrefield and is another man to keep an eye on over the summer.

Their defence maybe lets them down sometimes and they cannot look to the steely Ó Sés anymore. Their defence didn’t let them down last weekend though and they were comfortable winners.

It was a serious message sent out by Kerry. They will be contenders.

For Cork, it was a disaster.


Brian Cuthert is only just in the door in Cork, but the writing is already on the wall for him. Sunday’s was a lifeless display by Cork. This wasn’t just any old game: It was a Munster final against Kerry at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Nor was it just any Munster final against Kerry at Pairc Ui Chaoimh with it also being the ‘farewell’ final at the Leeside venue, which is to undergo a development now.

For Kerry to come into the back-garden and toy with Cork I’m sure hurt them deeply in Cork. It was poor and there will be a lot of questions to see what went wrong.

From the word go, Kerry were sharper. It was a really good Kerry performance and it’s a Kerry team that means business. The word coming out of Kerry is that they have been training really well of late. They have had serious in-house matches and they reckon they have a lot of competition for places that mightn’t be obvious to the rest of us.

It’s a long road back for Cork and the stomach just mightn’t be in them after that.

Monaghan: Convincing but yet to convince

MONAGHAN were convincing winners against Armagh and they’re coming into the Ulster final with Donegal looking slick and sharp.

Armagh had done very well to claw back in the first game and force a replay, but last Sunday Monaghan made no mistake. The dander was up on Conor McManus and he kicked 1-7 in what was an excellent performance.

Their defence was much tighter too, Drew Wylie and Colin Walshe were far better on Sunday than they’d been in the drawn game.

This Ulster final will be game that Jim McGuinness will relish and I’m confident that Donegal will be ready for them on Sunday-week.

A number of Monaghan’s player’s we’ll have to watch out for. Kieran Hughes has been very good any time they’ve played Donegal. Dessie Mone, too, has caused us a lot of problems and in the League final Paudie McKenna and Fintan Kelly – two lesser-known players – came good.
While Monaghan will have no fear of playing Donegal, I do believe that Donegal are in a much better position.

And let’s remember this: Donegal will not fear Monaghan either. Someone like Jim will relish this. We have lost twice to Monaghan in big games since Malachy O’Rourke took them over.

Tyrone can bring painful end for Grimley

ARMAGH don’t get much time to recover from the Monaghan defeat and a trip to Omagh to face Tyrone could be unforgiving. I think Tyrone will have too much for Armagh. We could possibly be seeing the end of Paul Grimley’s tenure in Armagh – and they have Kieran McGeeney waiting in the wings, remember.

Both teams have lost to Monaghan, but Tyrone dusted the cobwebs when they annihilated Louth.

Tyrone have a lot of young talent coming through. It could be close enough for a while, but I think Tyrone will pull away.

Mickey Harte and Tyrone have already ended the managerial tenure of one Armagh man as Aidan O’Rourke stepped away from Louth after taking a tanking from the Red Hands. Expect them to draw a red line under Grimley’s reign on Sunday.

Down-Kildare has the look of a clinker in Newry. Neither James McCartan nor Jason Ryan will take too kindly to making a Championship exit now, but I feel Down’s momentum will be key here. Kildare were awful against Meath in Croke Park and the change in manager and system hasn’t been a success.

Cavan and Roscommon could be another one to keep an eye on. They’ve had some good meetings lately and are two teams who’ll relish another day out. Cavan were beaten tamely in Armagh and the only fight they showed was in the parade. With home advantage and a qualifier under their belt, Cavan can advance, but Roscommon will take a lot of confidence from the Mayo game. It’s probably the most difficult game to call at the weekend, but I’m going to side with Cavan.

Connacht final is huge for Horan, Mulholland

IT’S no surprise that Mayo and Galway are meeting in the Connacht final and I think Sunday’s is a huge game for both managers, James Horan and Alan Mulholland.

Horan has won the last three Connacht titles, but has been pipped at the All-Ireland post in the last two finals by Donegal and Dublin. He knows that he has to deliver the big one. On what we have seen this year, I don’t think that Mayo are as far advanced as they have been in the last couple of summers.

Doneegal can vouch for how difficult it is to come back the following year after winning an All-Ireland, but you can only imagine what it has been like for Mayo after losing back-to-back finals. That must have been so demoralising and it will take a very good manager to get them lifted for the war again.

I felt that they struggled against Roscommon in their last game and it remains to be seen how much of an impression they’ll make. They could have been beaten by Roscommon and I would wonder of the effect a defeat could leave in Mayo now at this stage of the summer.

Galway ran through Sligo with little or no fuss. They did the job and for me it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise in the world if Galway were to win it.

Mulholland’s job is on the line in Galway because he hasn’t really delivered. Victory on Sunday is not beyond them and a Connacht title would mean so much to both Galway and Mulholland.

Plan to support our minors

I KNOW that it’s still a week and a bit out from the Ulster final, but to any Donegal fans who are going to Clones on Sunday-week, I want to appeal to you to get in early and cheer on the minors in their final against Armagh. Get into the ground early and give these young lads – who have done fantastic work for the county in the last year – your support.
It could be a really special day for Donegal, so why no get in and take it all in. Our preparations are going really well and we’re looking forward to it.

Have you a comment to make on any of the above or have you an issue you would like raised? Get in touch with Declan by emailing