GAA Football

Gallagher calls for Kerry mentality among Donegal pundits

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher and team after beating Longford during the All Ireland qualifier at Ballybofey on Saturday night. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin.

CLEARLY riled by some of the pre-match predictions emanating from Donegal ahead of their humbling defeat by Tyrone, Rory Gallagher says the county would do well to adopt a more “yerra” approach.

An air of supreme confidence around the county was evident in the build-up to the Ulster semi-final, with Michael Hegarty among others predicting a comfortable win over the reigning Ulster champions.

It transpired the opposite way and following an uncomfortable Qualifier win over Longford, Gallagher said his county could do with a mentality more akin to Kerry's.

That was in notable contrast to the like of former Kerry great Darragh Ó Sé, who talked up Cork's chances in the Munster final before his native county wiped the floor with their rivals on Sunday.

“We're very aware of where we're at,” said Gallagher.

“The expectancy and the standards we have for ourselves are very clear within our setup. What so-called pundits, particularly from our own end… If you read the papers today about Kerry and Cork, you'll maybe see why Kerry have the success they have.”

The pre-season expectations were that Donegal would struggle to survive in Division One but after a handful of impressive performances, summer hopes were firmly adjusted.

But the absence of all that experience that retired was laid bare to the world in Clones as a ruthless Tyrone blitzed their way into a decider with Down.

It left Donegal facing down the unfamiliar path of the early qualifier rounds, a place they hadn't been since 2010, but one Gallagher now admits he was always prepared to head for this year.

“It's not something we've been used to over the last number of years; it's new territory.

“When the [Ulster Championship] draw was made, hand on heart was it a road that was always very possible for us to be on? It was.

“The big thing not performing against Tyrone. That hurts peoples' pride. Today I thought we showed a very nervous display.

“You just don't arrive at Championship football, very few players arrive and launch themselves in with fine form.

“We want to get those lads as much experience playing for Donegal, and the more Championship experience they can accrue the better.

“It didn't go their way today, a number of them. Longford have a number of seasoned campaigners and a wee bit more experience.”

One of Donegal's more seasoned campaigners, although still only 30, Frank McGlynn has turned almost overnight into a veteran head in a fresh squad.

Ever positive, though, he said the fact that their performance against Tyrone were so far off their usual pitch left it easier for them to regroup and go again.

“It's not too hard to lift when you're dumped out of Ulster by Tyrone having not played well,” said the Glenfin defender.

“You're going into a knockout championship and if you don't have your head right, anything can happen. Longford showed that today in the first half, they drove into us and put us under pressure.

“We responded well after that and it probably took the half-time team-talk to settle ourselves and realise we were creating plenty of chances and just not taking them in the first half.

“You don't ever go into Ulster thinking you're going to end up in the Qualifiers, every man in that Donegal dressing room went into both the Antrim game and the Tyrone game without a second game after that in their minds.

“We didn't do ourselves justice against Tyrone. It took us a while to recover and get our heads around the qualifier route, but that's what we did last week.

“We prepared this week for the game with Longford and we got the result today, we'll take confidence from that and move on.”

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