Donegal dominate Kildare ‘to get back up with the big guys’
‘We want to be in the top tier, we want to be winning Ulster and in the Super 8s’
Donegal’s Michael Murphy in action against Kildare. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
Donegal 1-20 Kildare 0-10
Long before Jamie Brennan tucked home the only goal of the game, Donegal had their tickets punched for a return to Division One.
Brennan finished off a fine move 11 minutes into the second half, steering in from close range after being put clear by Jason McGee.
Donegal were utterly dominant and, despite playing into a fierce gale in the first half, they led 0-13 to 0-1 at the break.
“It’s nice to get back into Division 1,” Bonner said. “That’s what we set out to achieve at the start of the year, to get back up with the big guys again.
“We want to be in the top tier, we want to be winning Ulster and in the Super 8s. We’re just like any other team with ambitions. We’ll take this on board and get ready for Saturday evening at Croke Park.”
Donegal reeled off six early points to claim a foothold in the game.
Oisin Gallen and Niall O’Donnell, two of the emerging players in Donegal, impressed with a series of fine scores.
Bonner said: “They’re two very young lads, but they’re learning all the time. With the experienced boys back on the field and those boys pushing hard for game time, training has been very good. The standard of intensity and quality are going up. We have been working on a lot over the last number of weeks.
“We have some very good kickers. We went into today without four of our starting forwards from the last Ulster Championships - Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson, Odhrán Mac Niallais and Patrick McBrearty and we still kicked 1-20, which was a very good return.”
With Daire Ó Baoill and Ryan McHugh on the mark late in the first half, Donegal had a dozen to spare at the changeover.
Kildare’s only point of the first half arrived in the 24th minute when Neil Flynn popped over a free and the afternoon was already an ordeal before things unravelled completely in the early stages of the second half.
Captain Eoin Doyle was black-carded just two minutes after the restart when referee Paddy Neilan’s attention was drawn to an off-the-ball incident.
Doyle hardly had his laces untied when Flynn was sent off. Flynn was given a black card, swiftly followed by a red, after dragging Michael Murphy to the turf.
Donegal spurned a golden chance to put the game firmly beyond Kildare’s reach when McGee screwed wide, but he turned provider for Brennan to beat Mark Donnellan, the Kildare goalkeeper.
Bonner said: “It was a good performance. We played for 75 minutes and we hadn’t been finishing out games well until now.
“We had some excellent scores in the first half and we were in total control in the second.”
There were some worrying notes struck by the Kildare manager, Cian O’Neill.
“We’re just not playing at the level we can,” he said.
“It’s frustrating for everyone. Those guys are better than they showed. We’ve seen glimpses of it. We need to look at ourselves because it’s no-one else’s fault. It’s not just about today. We need to look at where we’re at as a group.”
Donegal: S Patton; P McGrath, B McCole, S McMenamin; D Ó Baoill (0-1), L McLoone, E Gallagher; H McFadden (0-1), J McGee (0-2); N O’Donnell (0-3), R McHugh (0-3), C McGonagle (0-1); O Gallen (0-4), M Murphy (0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ‘45), J Brennan (1-1). Subs: N McGee for McCole (57 mins), E McHugh for Ó Baoill (61’), P Brennan for Gallen (63’), F McGlynn for McLoone (67’), C Ward for R.McHugh (68’).
Kildare: M Donnellan; D Hyland, M O’Grady, K Flynn; C O’Donoghue (0-1), E Doyle, P Kelly; K Feely, T Moolick; F Conway, P Brophy (0-2, 0-1 free), K Cribbin; N Flynn (0-1 free), C Healy, J Hyland (0-2). Subs: A Tyrell (0-4, 0-1 free) for Cribben (h-t), J Murray for Conway (48 mins), A Masterson for Flynn (53’), T Archibald for Brophy (57’), M Barrett for O’Donoghue (62’).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).