EirGrid All Ireland U21 football semi final
DONEGAL manager Declan Bonner spoke of an emotion-filled dressing room after his players won the Ulster U21 title in Armagh on Monday night.
An exhilarating second half display saw his young charges put Derry to the sword and set up a semi-final showdown with Dublin in Cavan on Saturday afternoon.
Donegal’s only concern since that momentous night at the Athletic Grounds is fatigue although it’s unlikely to threaten anyone’s participation in the Breffni Park semi-final.
“We went back to the hotel after the game for a recovery session and left for home about midnight, although some of the lads had to make their way back to college in Dublin and Galway,” he said.
The days of celebrating Ulster titles into the night – and maybe most of the following week – are long since gone in modern football.
“Indeed. We had the lads back in on Tuesday afternoon for video analysis but that’s where the game is at nowadays. The amount of work that goes in behind the scenes is unbelievable and so many people, players and backroom staff alike, have put in a great effort throughout the campaign. That’s why it was so nice to win something for them all on Monday night,” Bonner said.
Dessie Farrell’s Dublin side, who clinched the Leinster title for a the third year in a row with an extra time win against Kildare earlier this month, have had three weeks to get themselves ready for this weekend’s game.
“I’m not complaining. We’re in an All Ireland semi final. We knew the calendar and the tight schedule but we didn’t want to look too far ahead. It’s hard to beat match practise and we’ve had plenty of that. If the lads prepare properly it will take a good team to beat us,” he smiled.
The Donegal manager has urged supporters to travel in their numbers once more to cheer on the team tomorrow afternoon.
“The sight of Christy Murray playing his bag-pipes as the boys took the field on Monday night gave us all a lift. There was great colour and noise coming from the Donegal supporters. It’s given the lads a massive lift all year and, hopefully, they can do enough to give everyone one final day out in a few weeks time,” he said.