It’s knock-out football from here on in – BONNER

In years gone by it was always the end of July where we got to the quarter-finals and that’s where it all kicks off, but we’re coming to that stage now this weekend.

It’s a big match today for Donegal, it’s out of the control of Jim McGuinness if Cork get a result against Tyrone so Donegal will have to concentrate on getting the job done against Clare which they are well capable of doing.

Clare really struggled  against Tyrone and one of their main midfielders in Darragh Bohannon is suspended which is a big loss to them.


I’m sure Jim and the team would have got plenty of chances to dwell on the Cork game and I said already that it’s not the worst thing, if they were to lose a match then that is the one they probably will have wanted to lose and get the focus back for this weekend and the knockouts.

Clare will be disappointed with how they conceded the goals against Tyrone. In their first day out against Cork they only lost by two points and they really put it up to them.

Under Colm Collins they were really competitive and they got to a Munster final again this year before Kerry ultimately came out on top.

But they have nothing to lose and they will go at it so it’ll be interesting to see how Donegal cope with that.

But I think the two week break will give the lads time to regroup and get the batteries recharged and analyse how the goals came against Cork and how often possession was coughed up and ensure that doesn’t happen again.

I expect a much cleaner and a more clinical performance from Donegal to get over the line reasonably comfortably.

It’ll be interesting to see if Jason McGee will be back, which would be doubtful if it was a hamstring injury that he picked up.


They may look at the bigger picture down the line and make sure he’s 100% fit for when he does come back because he has been one of the most consistent players for the county all year and he will be a big loss.

I would expect big numbers to travel to Castlebar for the Clare game. The support has been great and we’re coming into the critical part of the season now because we’re coming to the stage where it’s knockout football from now on.

If things go Donegal’s way then having an extra week will be massive but if not then so be it, it’s into knockout football and that’s where the real championship starts.


Everyone will be tuned into the Cork and Tyrone match to see who comes out on top in that. I wouldn’t rule out Tyrone and I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down to score difference so the calculators could be out on Saturday at around 5pm and it’ll make for an interesting afternoon.

It’s in Cork’s hands and they will have been buoyed by their win over Donegal but Tyrone are always capable of winning against anyone and I’m expecting them to win and it to go down to score difference.

There are a couple of interesting games to determine top spot with Armagh and Galway first on Sunday.

Armagh have really regrouped since the Ulster final with a win over Westmeath who then put it up to Galway.

But Damien Comer is back playing and Shane Walsh is starting to find form, Matthew Tierney should be back and those three are absolutely vital for Galway and if all three are on the pitch then they are serious contenders.

I think it will be very close and Galway might just have enough to clinch top spot.

Mayo and Dublin is another interesting one and with the game in Hyde Park in Roscommon, it will be interesting to see the All-Ireland champions out of Croke Park against Mayo.

All of the big championship games between the pair down through the years have been in HQ so it’ll be one to watch.

I think Mayo will fancy their chances in the Hyde and it’ll be a real cracker but Dublin have been going reasonably well and are the team to beat so I feel they will have enough firepower to top the group.

There are a couple of games to see who will be put out of the championship with Cavan and Roscommon first on Saturday.

The Rossies looked last year like they were making improvements but they haven’t shown that at all this year and they got relegated in the league.

It’s a must win for both but I think the loss of Paddy Lynch for Cavan has been huge and they don’t have the scoring power without him so I expect Roscommon to come out on top.

In terms of Derry against Westmeath, there are a lot of things being written about Derry and it’s all chaotic in the Oak Leaf County at the moment.

When this championship run is over it wouldn’t be surprising if Mickey Harte is gone, whether or not it’s after this weekend wouldn’t be a surprise but I think the players will have to have galvanised themselves for this game.

They cannot go from one of the top two or three teams in the country to what has happened in the last six weeks and I do expect a kick from them against Westmeath.

I expect Kerry to come out on top against Louth fairly easily, Louth have done well but they would have been disappointed not to see the game out against Monaghan. Kerry are one of the teams to beat with Dublin and I expect them to see it out.

Monaghan and Meath is another battle for third and the Farney County will have taken confidence from that last quarter against Louth.

Meath have gotten a couple of bad beatings and I would be on the side of Monaghan to get the third spot.


Donegal’s Luke McGuinness battles to win possession during Saturday’s All-Ireland semi final. Photo Evan Logan

It was disappointment for the minors against Kildare on Saturday in the All-Ireland Tier Two semi-final, losing by 3-12 to 1-13 and it hasn’t been a great number of years at underage level when you compare Donegal to their neighbours and where they are at.

It’s vital to get back up there because Tyrone won the Under-20 title this year and Derry won the minors last year and are in a strong position to do so again.

There’s no doubt there are a lot of good younger lads coming through but we haven’t filtered as many into the senior team in recent years that we would have liked to and it’s so important to have those structures right with the Head of Academy yet to be sorted.

Getting that proper set up will be crucial for years to come.


The Donegal ladies had a good result against Kerry who are one of the fancied sides to win the All-Ireland.

The side have lost a lot of players and John McNulty has blooded a lot of new girls and to be competitive against one of the top teams is showing signs that they’re going in the right direction.

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