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DECLAN BONNER: Big support needed for Ulster Final


It was a good week for Donegal football with our senior team recording a deserved win over Tyrone last Saturday in Cavan.

We were under no illusions about how difficult the game would be as we headed for Kingspan Breffni Park.

Tyrone are a highly-rated team and they had our number for a few years.

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But last Saturday was our day and the team produced a fine performance to get the victory.

As I said after the match, great and all that it was, it wasn’t a game without its flaws from our perspective.

After watching it back again, there are plenty of things that we need to work on and areas that we can improve.

Nobody in our dressing room was getting carried away with it. Yes it was a big result, but there was no silverware handed out. I always say there’s no point in big celebrations if you’re not bringing a cup on the team bus.

The championship is much different these days to what it used to be like when you might have gone three or four weeks without a match.

Now they’re coming every two weeks and you’ve got to be able to get your analysis done and get a game plan ready in a short space of time.

The one exception to that is your first outing, and we spent a lot of time working on Fermanagh.

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But as soon as that game was over, you move on and get ready for the next game.

Preparing for Tyrone wasn’t easy as obviously they have a lot of quality players, and any team that reaches the All-Ireland Final have to be respected.

It took a huge collective effort to beat them and that came from every player and every member of the backroom team.

There were lads that didn’t get on last week, but that asked questions in training of the starting team, and that’s what you need. Everyone has to push each other on.

We were excellent in the first half, and we moved the ball very quickly.

Jamie Brennan took his goal brilliantly and he could have had another one too.

Now to be fair, Tyrone also had goal chances, and we needed Shaun Patton to be on form, and thankfully he was.

I was never truly worried in the second half. Tyrone came back at us as I expected them to, but as long as we didn’t ship any goals, I knew we’d hold on for victory.

8 June 2019; Jamie Brennan of Donegal celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Donegal and Tyrone at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

I suppose apart from our win, the big talking point to arise from the match was Tiernan McCann’s incident with Stephen McMenamin.

After seeing it back again it didn’t look good, and thankfully there were no ill-effects for Stephen, who was fine as he left the ground.

I’ve played in big championship games myself and I know that you can get frustrated sometimes in the heat of battle, but what happened was unacceptable.

It was a dangerous act, and I don’t know what the punishment will be, but I’m sure there is a protocol that will be followed.

It was a disappointing incident, and it wasn’t in keeping with the game, which was played in a sporting manner throughout.

As I said before the game, both sides have the utmost respect for each other.

I’m sure Tyrone will re-group and come back again in the qualifiers, but our focus has been on the Ulster Final since about 6.45pm last Saturday.

I went up to Clones on Sunday to see Cavan take on Armagh, and I was very impressed with the Breffni county.

I also saw them in the first game with Armagh, and they say that the better team usually wins the replay, and that’s what happened.

Mickey Graham is a very astute GAA man and we’ve seen that with what he has done with Mullinalaghta, and now his good work with Cavan.

They scored 23 points last week which is good shooting, and they have a nice balance all over their team, and class players like Dara McVeety and Gearoid McKiernan.

They were in Division 1 this year and while they were relegated, they were very competitive in all games, and have got stronger as the season has gone on.

I would have travelled to Cavan a lot over the last 20 years with work, and there is huge interest in gaelic football in the county.

Their numbers wouldn’t be as big as some counties, but they are really passionate and I remember the massive support they had when they played against Donegal in two Under 21 finals a few years ago.

Cavan won four Ulster Under 21 titles in-a-row, and they have been waiting on those players to come through and make their senior mark.

That’s happening now and there will be big hype in the Breffni county over the next week.

It’s important that the Donegal supporters get their tickets ordered and make sure they are there to cheer on the team.

If we don’t do that, Cavan folk will eat up the tickets, and they will create a lot of energy for their team.

We can’t afford to allow that to happen and we need to make sure that Clones is awash with green and gold on Sunday week.

There is no place like St Tiernach’s Park on Ulster Final day.

It’s a brilliant day for families, and groups looking for a bit of craic.

We have been fortunate to be there frequently over the last decade, and there is always a superb atmosphere.

It’s going to be a big ask for the team to retain the Anglo Celt Cup, but they will do everything they can to try and make it happen.

Hopefully our supporters will back them every step of the way, and make sure that there’s a huge Donegal roar as they take to the field in the provincial decider.

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