12 Aug 2022

Search to replace Declan Bonner as Donegal manager already in motion

The County Executive will be selecting a three-person panel to liaise with parties interested in taking over management of the senior panel

Search to replace Declan Bonner as Donegal manager already in motion

Outgoing Donegal Manager Declan Bonner and Donegal GAA Chairman Mick McGrath after the 2019 Ulster final

The process to appoint a replacement for Declan Bonner, who last night tendered his resignation as team manager of the Donegal senior footballers, is already underway.

Bonner informed a county committee at the Donegal GAA Centre in Convoy of his intention to stand down from his role as manager, having been appointed for the second time in September 2017.

“In the structure to appoint a new senior football team manager I am seeking permission to appoint three qualified persons to speak to suitable, experienced and skillful personnel in regards to the position,” Donegal county board chairman Mick McGrath said at last night’s meeting.

“Clubs with interested, qualified persons may submit names to the county secretary by Monday, August 15, at 5pm. Recommendations will be made to the County Committee when that process has finished.”

As a player, Bonner won the 1990 and 1992 Ulster SFC titles with Donegal, as well as scoring four points in the 0-18 to 0-14 victory over Dublin in the 1992 All-Ireland final. He was initially appointed manager of the county seniors in 1997, on the day of his 32nd birthday, coming within a whisker of the Anglo-Celt in 1998, only to lose to an injury time Joe Brolly goal for Derry in the final.

Having initially stepped aside in 2000, he agreed to help out Paddy Hegarty with a Donegal South Development squad in 2011.
In his second spell with Donegal at various age brackets, Bonner has won 10 titles - the U-16 Buncrana Cup in 2012, the McGuigan Cup Ulster U-17 League a year later, Ulster Minor Leagues in 2014 and 2015, Ulster Minor Championship 2014 on their way to a first and only ever All-Ireland final appearance, the Ulster U-21 championship in 2017, and, on his return to the seniors, the Dr McKenna Cup of 2018, Allianz League Division 2 in 2019 and back-to-back Ulster SFC crowns in 2018 and 2019.

Donegal were beaten Ulster finalists against Cavan in 2020 and then lost out to eventual Ulster and All-Ireland champions Tyrone in the provincial semi-final last year on a 0-23 to 1-14 scoreline. This year, Donegal finished in fourth place in Division 1 of the Allianz League and lost out to Derry in extra-time in the Ulster final on a 1-16 1-14 scoreline. Last month Donegal were beaten in the second round of the All-Ireland qualifiers by Armagh, 3-17 to 0-16.

“I respect Declan’s decision and he can leave here with his head held high tonight,” McGrath told club delegates. “He has been a dedicated player and manager for our county so I wish to thank you Declan, your family and your club Na Rossa for your contribution to Donegal football.”

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