Donegal fell to Dublin in Croke Park on Saturday evening, despite a second-half fightback spearheaded by the impressive Paddy McBrearty. Overall there were several positives for the Ulster side, not least the return of Michael Murphy to action.
Nonetheless, moral victories don’t put points on the board for Declan Bonner’s side. While the manager is under no illusions about the need to pick up wins in the coming weeks to allay fears of relegation, he admitted that he is pleased with the positives.
“We have four games left, they are all big games for us. Prior to the league campaign, I knew we were going to be very, very short in terms of experience. We have a lot of young lads that have shown they are capable now of playing at this level. We knew it was going to be tough. We want to stay in Division 1 but it is not going to be the be all and end all if we don’t.”
The 1992 All-Ireland winner is keen to put his stamp on the team, as they seek to establish a new identity in the game.
“The championship was always going to be the priority. We are looking towards Ulster and that starts in May. But we are building it bit by bit, we are trying to change the way we are playing, changing game-plans takes time. We are getting there and that second-half performance will definitely give us encouragement leaving Croke Park this evening.
“It is very difficult. When you have been playing the one system for a long period of time, it can be difficult to try and change it. But listen, we are getting there. The boys are working hard on the training ground and that is the only place we can get it rectified. It is only a bit of tweaking at this stage, we are not that far away. A victory would be a huge tonic at this stage. Kildare is our next league match now and that is a must-win for us.”
Donegal host Kildare on Sunday week in their next game, with ties against Tyrone, Monaghan and Mayo remaining in the campaign.