GAA Football

Missed penalty, a penalty that never was and of course the sending off of go-to man Michael Murphy… Donegal manager Declan Bonner has bones to pick

Donegal's Neil McGee was injured in the opening minutes of the Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final at Brewster Park. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Andy Watters

A MISSED penalty, a penalty that never was and of course the sending off of go-to man Michael Murphy… Donegal manager Declan Bonner had a few bones to pick after yesterday's engrossing semi-final battle with Tyrone at Brewster Park.

The Tir Chonaill men led by three points when Murphy hit the post with his penalty. Five minutes later, he'd been set off and Tyrone had seized the initiative which, despite Donegal's best efforts, they refused to release.

“Those things happen in Championship football and it was probably a key moment in the game,” said Bonner of the penalty miss.

“I think the sending off was a bigger moment in the game. Without having looked at it again, there was an incident when Michael Langan went through shortly after that.

“There was a couple of key moments in the game, particularly in that period before half-time which was disappointing and frustrating but the lads showed tremendous character in sweltering heat out there when down to 14 men. It was always going to be very difficult

“I am immensely proud of the work and the effort the guys put in.”

Murphy had already been booked when he swung a boot at a loose ball and connected with Kieran McGeary. He was shown a black card and then a red by referee Joe McQuillan.

Bonner was unequivocal in his assessment of the decision.

“To me it wasn't a sending off,” he said.

“I chatted with Michael and he's very disappointed. Some days decisions go for you.

“Today, I think Joe got a number of decisions wrong but I'm not going to blame the referee for it. These things happen in Championship football.

“It's frustrating from our point of view because it was always going to leave us with an uphill task.

Donegal had lost veteran Neil McGee to injury early on and Bonner – who refused to speculate on his own future after four years as his county's manager – said the knock looked to be “pretty serious”.

“At the end of the day all we could focus on was the lads that were playing and they gave everything for the Donegal jersey today,” he said.

“Ultimately it caught up with us in the last five or six minutes, battling with 14 men against 15 in those conditions. Tyrone move on and we wish them well.

“We took it back to a score and we had an opportunity to equalise close on 70 minutes and we didn't take that and ultimately Tyrone kicked on a number of points at the end.

“I have to say I'm very proud of the effort and the commitment that the boys put in.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football