More to come from young Donegal team says Rory Gallagher
Over a week after the traumatic lesson doled out by a rampant Tyrone in the Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final, Donegal manager Rory Gallagher firmly believes that his young charges ‘‘did not do themselves justice” on the day.
Tyrone ran through Donegal like a German panzer division on tour in Clones 11 days ago, crushing everything in sight and Gallagher knows that a similar display against Qualifier specialists Longford – who dumped Down and Monaghan out of last year’s All-Ireland Qualifying series – on Saturday could mean the end of Donegal’s season.
And that would be a really crushing blow to their ambitions.
“Looking back, over a week on we are still naturally very disappointed,’’ admits the Fermanagh native.
‘‘Especially in the fact that we did not do ourselves justice. We all know that there is a lot more in this team.”
He added: “We just let Tyrone get too far ahead of us and it went from 0-5 to 0-5 to 0-12 to 0-5 at half-time and that was the real turning point.
“And even though we had quite an amount of experienced players, we also allowed ourselves to be exposed at the back.
“Tyrone got far too much room and we just did not compete with them at all and that is disappointing.
“We were struggling in so many areas and that is what we have been looking at this past week.”
There is no doubt that Donegal are deeply wounded, with team captain Michael Murphy saying they had let down the county in the immediate aftermath of that heavy defeat.
Team Gallagher insists that Donegal will learn from that salutary lesson in the sad school of experience.
“Look, we had six or seven lads for whom this was all very new and it was a pretty steep learning curve for all of them, but hopefully that will make them even stronger.
“There is still a lot of good football in this squad but we must bring a much greater intensity level than what we showed against Tyrone.
“And we can’t afford to be giving away so much room to the opposition’s forwards.”
Gallagher admits that Donegal have been given a reasonable draw in the Qualifiers.
“Longford is not a bad draw but we are just delighted to be still in the All-Ireland Championship.
“But we know they have a very good record and are coming with confidence and if we produce the same level of performance against Tyrone, then we will not beat anyone.”
Gallagher added that there has been a lot of collective soul-searching and some young players have been given a valuable lesson.
But it will only be valuable if they rise like wounded animals and bring their undoubted potential to bear on Longford in Ballybofey
Gallagher believes that if his side can get over the Leinster men on Saturday they have the potential to have a long summer.
“I would like to think that you are not defined by one game.
“After our opening match against Kerry we really improved in the League.
“There is still a lot of talent and ability in this squad and it is just a question of bringing that out.
“We are totally focused on Longford, but if we get over Longford then there is the potential for a long summer.”