GAA Football

Donegal boss Bonner blames turnovers for turnaround

Declan Bonner said conceding the goal was the key point in the match for his team

All-Ireland SFC quarter-final Group 2, phase three: Donegal 1-13 Tyrone 2-17

TURNOVERS explained the turnaround, felt Donegal boss Declan Bonner – and that traditional ‘turning point’ of an opposition goal.

The hosts were still ahead thanks to their goal as this tense tussle went past the hour mark but once Tyrone hit the net Bonner felt that his side were hit for six, not just for three.

“The goal came at a crucial stage for Tyrone and we didn't react well to it and the substitutions that came in for Tyrone made a difference. It's a disappointing way to exit it.

“The second and third quarters we were playing well. We were in control. Tyrone stayed in the match and the goal was a huge turning point in the match.”

The Red Hands wrested almost complete control of the final quarter, though, and Bonner put that down to them wrestling plenty of possession off his players:

“We got too many balls turned over in that second half especially - eight or nine balls turned over – and you can’t do that against a quality side like Tyrone who will hit you on the counter-attack - and that's exactly what they did…

“You set your targets and set your goals and this game was winnable, we had no fear going into this game. If we played to the level we knew we were capable of doing, and avoided those mistakes in terms of getting turned over, you had a big chance – but ultimately that's what let us down.”

Yet the Na Rossa clubman managed to point to positives despite the gutting nature of this loss, highlighting the achievements and progress of his new-look team:

“We set out our goals early on in terms of winning an Ulster title and getting to the Super Eights.

“There's a lot of new lads coming in there but at the same time we've very disappointed that we've exited the Championship in MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.

“In terms of effort and commitment that these boys have put in over the last nine or ten months has been top class.

“Listen, it's a huge learning curve today for a lot of lads. Let's hope that they can come back stronger.”

Bonner was right to suggest this game was tighter than Tyrone’s seven-point winning margin, saying: “I don't think the scoreline was a fair reflection on the 70 minutes but at the end of the day it is what it is.

“Tyrone are a good side, there's no doubt about that. They've been up there for the last 10 to 15 years – Mickey knows what it's all about too. It sets them up nicely for a match against Monaghan next Sunday.”

As for Donegal, they lick their wounds and prepare for 2019 in Division Two – but as Ulster champs: “There’s huge disappointment in there now but it has been a hugely positive season and we have to build on that there, have to learn from that type of game.”

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