No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

DECLAN BONNER – Heartbreak for Bundoran

A devastated Jamie Brennan looks on at the final whistle in the Intermediate Ulster final at Owenbeg.

A devastated Jamie Brennan looks on at the final whistle in the Intermediate Ulster final at Owenbeg.

There was heartbreak for Bundoran last week in the Ulster Intermediate Final and there’s no doubt that it was a game they should have won.

They were the better side for the majority of the game but it was a difficult day to play football, and they didn’t get enough scores on the board.

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We knew before the game that Loughinisland were good at getting goals and they managed to hit the net four times last Sunday.

The annoying thing from Bundoran’s perspective was that they presented Loughinisland with three goals from basic errors.

It’s hard to believe that a team could only score one point from a free over 60 minutes and still win a provincial decider, but that’s what happened.

It will be a tough defeat to take, but Bundoran have had a great run this year. And if they can hold on to the players that are there, they could challenge at senior level.

For me, they are in the top six or seven teams in Donegal. They have a half-back line that is as good as any side in the county, and Shane McGowan is the man that makes them tick.

I have always rated Shane and he’s definitely good enough for the Donegal senior panel, but at 28, maybe that boat has sailed.

Ciaran McCaughey really impressed me last week in midfield and he wasn’t prepared to let Dan Gordon dominate, and I thought Peter McGonigle complemented him well in the engine room.

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Jamie Brennan is an excellent prospect, and Alan Russell is talented, but they are probably short one or two potent forwards. They have a couple of good players in Australia like Michael McEniff and Adam Coyne, and if they could persuade them to come home, they would be a force to be reckoned with.

The big test of Bundoran’s character will be how they respond in their play-off with Four Masters, which possibly won’t take place for another two weeks.

In previous years, they would have collapsed after a big defeat, but they can’t do that this year. For their progression, they need to be playing in Division 1.
Crossmaglen won the Ulster Senior Club championship last Sunday after a tough battle with Scotstown.

By all accounts, it was a cracking game. It was a cold, wet, windy day in Armagh, but both teams served up an absorbing contest in front of a bumper crowd.

The loss of Kieran Hughes in extra-time was a huge blow to Scotstown, but the experience of Crossmaglen got them over the line again.

They are now into an All-Ireland semi-final with Castlebar Mitchels, which should be another big battle.

No change

The league structures are not going to change, apart from an amendment that will see a two up/two down format introduced to decide promotion and relegation.

There’s no doubt that something has to be done about the club calendar, but it looks like we are going to be in the same mess for another couple of seasons.

Clubs don’t want to play without their county players and I can understand their stance, especially the smaller clubs.

It’s alright for the likes of St Eunan’s, Glenswilly, and St Michael’s, who will probably pick up enough points to stay in Division 1 regardless of whether or not their county players miss a few league games.

It’s the likes of Glenfin with Frank McGlynn, and MacCumhaills with Marty O’Reilly, and Buncrana with Darach O’Connor, who will really struggle.

Martin O'Reilly

Martin O’Reilly

When you’re down in Division 2 or 3, having your county player for club games could the difference between being in the chase for promotion, or scrapping to avoid relegation. They are that important.

After a lot of talk and two fixtures forums, we are back at where we started and we don’t have any answers. We will still be playing league games at this time next year.

We’re trying to squeeze the under 21 championship in now too, and it’s hard to find anyone who benefits from the competition being played in December.

If it took place at the start of year around the time of the intercounty Under 21 Championship, then I think it could work well, but at the moment, I just don’t see the point.

The Interprovincials are taking place this weekend, and this is another competition that the GAA are just paying lip service too. It just seems to be thrown on whenever there is a free Sunday.

There will be no Donegal players representing Ulster, while the All-Ireland Champions Dublin have no-one on the Leinster select. That tells its own tale.
It was a great competition, and like representing your country, it was always a great honour to pull on the Ulster shirt.

I was lucky enough to win a Railway Cup medal back in the early 90s. It was great to get the chance to play with quality players that you were normally going to war against. But unfortunately the competition seems to have been undermined now and it looks like it has run its course.

I know Donegal have a challenge game with Derry this week at Colaiste Ailigh, and maybe that is a reason why we have no players on the Interprovincial panel.

I have to give credit to all at Coláiste Ailigh, because they have developed their playing field into an excellent venue for GAA. I was up there a couple of times last year with the minors and the facilities are second to none.

The school has done well at senior level in recent years, and they are obviously putting a lot of emphasis on Gaelic Gootball.

It is great for them to get a game of this magnitude and I wish them all the best this week.


Only one victim

I don’t know where this keeps coming from, but last year’s Tyrone minor manager, Mickey Donnelly and the Tyrone County Board made another statement last week relating to what went on in the Ulster MFC clash in Ballybofey back in May.

When we made our complaint, we weren’t doing it to get anyone a massive suspension or anything like that.

We just felt it was a horrendous thing for anyone to hear on the pitch, and we were not prepared to sweep it under the carpet.

When this incident took place, it was reported to our physio shortly before half-time, who subsequently informed the Children’s Officer who was close to the sideline.

It wasn’t something that was made up. Words were said, and that was always going to be difficult to prove. We knew that.

We knew that when the Ulster Council carried out their investigation no player was going to admit to the wrong-doing. But it was still something that we felt we had to address.

I’m very disappointed because it has come out of Tyrone in the last couple of weeks that those players had been totally exonerated and they are saying the incident didn’t happen. Well, it did happen.

Mickey Donnelly came out and said that the victims in all this were the two Tyrone lads because they were doing their exams or whatever.
He is wrong. There is only one victim in all of this and that was the Donegal player who was on the receiving end of the abuse.

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