GAA Football

Long distance operators were the difference for Donegal admits Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher was philosophical as he watched his Fermanagh side bow out of the Ulster Championship Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

Ulster SFC quarter-final: Fermanagh 0-9 Donegal 0-15

FERMANAGH boss Rory Gallagher admitted Donegal’s match-winners from distance had made the difference in yesterday’s tight, tense Ulster Championship tussle at Brewster Park.

Facing a green wall, Declan Bonner’s men struggled to find their range early on and were made to wait until the 18th minute for their opening score.

However, monster efforts from Ciaran Thompson, Jamie Brennan and a couple apiece from Michael Murphy and Patrick McBrearty proved the difference as the Tir Chonaill advanced to the last four.

“You almost need to get ahead,” admitted Gallagher.

“The way Patrick and Jamie kicked scores, they were super scores and they were scores we aren't capable of kicking at the minute.

“We need to be able to get some of them the way we play, the 35-metre shots… our attacking game has improved a lot, I don’t think ultimately we have the quality to kick the long-range scores at this point in time.

“You are playing against a team who are very economical. You saw Patrick [McBrearty] and Ciaran Thompson's shots were quality. The way we went about it, the way we played would make most teams nervous.

“We turned over a lot of ball, we looked dangerous. We needed to score a goal at some point.”

It was always likely to be a game of fine margins and Gallagher was left to rue two possible goal chances that fell the way of Ultan Kelm, in the opening minutes, and Daniel Teague late in the game.

There were also shouts for a red card when Donegal’s Paddy McGrath caught Conall Jones high near the sideline. However, Gallagher felt referee Joe McQuillan made the right call by only issuing a yellow.

“Your initial reaction, you shout, but I didn't think it was a red card.

“It was a player coming down and as much as I would like to have seen it at the time, I thought Joe McQuillan displayed common sense. It was probably a slightly over-aggressive tackle, but those are difficult ones and I understand the directive but I would have had no problem with that.”

Fermanagh’s name now goes into the hat for this morning’s Qualifier draw, and Gallagher insists they can take positives from a significantly improved performance compared to their 12-point Ulster final defeat 11 months ago.

“I think we’re well improved,” he said.

“We have more to go, we competed phenomenally well… that was the big disappointment with the Ulster final, we didn’t compete on things like breaking ball, tackling, getting turnovers, going at them in waves.

“We did that today, we just have to add a bit more quality.”

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