Declan Bonner says the Donegal Under-21s are ready for the EirGrid Ulster Under-21 final against Derry in Armagh this evening (8pm).
Much has been made about the burden of going to Armagh on a Monday evening, but Bonner yesterday issued a plea for Donegal fans to get to the Athletic Grounds in big numbers.
Picture caption: Niall Keenan of Derry, left, and Lorcan Connor of Donegal in attendance at Shaws Bridge in Belfast to preview the EirGrid GAA Football Under 21 Ulster Final. Picture by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Bonner will be without Kieran Gillespie and Christian Bonner for the joust with Fergal McCusker’s Derry.
Bonner took over this batch of players at under-16 level and they have forged a strong bond in that time.
“We know these guys inside-out,” the Donegal manager said.
“We’ve had them from under-16 – 90 per cent of this squad is the same. They’re a close-knit, strong squad. It’s all about the squad and it’s not about an individual. They know what’s expected at this stage.”
A 13-point win over Cavan on Wednesday night was one of their most impressive games to date and an hour that outlined their calibre.
However, Bonner cautioned: “We know that we have a lot of work to get done. It’s going to be a big task. We played Derry five or six weeks ago behind closed doors and it was a tight game so we know that it’ll be a tight game again.”
Tonight’s winners will win the Irish News Cup for the last time as the Under-21 grade is being scrapped in favour of an under-20 competition.
The victor will advance to meet Dublin in an All-Ireland Under-21 semi-final on Saturday.
Listen to the full interview below …