GAA Football

Disciplinary structures "an absolute farce": Bonner

From Cahair O'Kane at MacCumhaill Park

Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Donegal 1-16 Armagh 0-12

DECLAN Bonner labelled the GAA's disciplinary structures as “an absolute farce” after seeing his Donegal side make light of Armagh's boardroom reprieves.

The build-up to yesterday's MacCumhaill Park meeting was dominated by Armagh's successful appeals against suspensions handed down from the end of the counties' league tie.

Rian O'Neill was cleared to play by the Central Hearings Committee, with Aidan Nugent and Stefan Campbell then successful at the second stage, the Central Appeals Committee.

The appeal against Ciaran Mackin's ban was withdrawn, with the Shane O'Neills clubman injured and out of the game anyway.

Bonner said that Donegal's decision not to appeal their bans for Odhran McFadden-Ferry and Neil McGee was based on advice that there was “no point”.

None of it counted for anything yesterday as Donegal's powerful midfield wall battered a disappointing into submission in a seven-point win before 13,689 supporters.

“We didn't want to be in a situation where you're pondering over three or four weeks will you have these players available. We made a decision there and then, we knew what we had available for us and that was it,” said the Donegal boss.

Asked if he'd been surprised by Armagh's success with appeals, he replied: “Yeah, surprised, but listen, in terms of the CAC or CCC or whatever it is, there's a lot of questions to be answered because that whole appeals committee is an absolute farce, to be quite honest.

“Not that we dwelt too much on it, we did the job we had to do.”

That was as far as his elaboration went, and he hadn't really need for any more on his behalf.

Kieran McGeeney opted not to speak to any media. There was no opportunity to question the impossibility of bypassing Donegal's kickout press that saw them win eight of Armagh's 14 first half kickouts, or the decision not to start Aidan Nugent, scorer of 1-6 in the league game between the sides but whose build-up was entangled in the appeals process.

Hopes had been high that their 14-year wait for an Ulster title was under its greatest threat since, but it wasn't just that Donegal won, it's that it was so comprehensive yet again.

The Tír Chonaill men move on to a semi-final against Cavan, their first meeting since the shock Breffni win in the 2020 Ulster decider.

Donegal's performance wasn't flawless, least of all in assembling just a three-point interval advantage despite having a near monopoly on possession.

They hadn't been given much credit during the league but Bonner insisted the noise had been comfortably blocked out.

Any panic?

“No. About what?”

People writing you off a bit, saying Donegal had fallen away?

“I don't even listen to what's going on, not one bit. I dunno, I don't want to hear it. Did you hear something?

“We were getting ready for championship, that's all we were doing.”

On they go, down the path they know so well. Nine finals in 11 years will be expected to become 10 in 12.

They've long learned to cope with the expectation in Ulster.

Armagh haven't worked that bit out yet.

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GAA Football