Donegal's Rory Gallagher issues stark warning to players
Donegal assistant manager Rory Gallagher has issued a stark warning to his players in advance of tomorrow's vital All-Ireland qualifiers round four meeting with Laois at Sean McDermott Park, Carrick-on-Shannon.
"If we play as poorly as we did against Down and Monaghan then we will be out of the Championship by tomorrow night and we will have no interest in the quarter-final draw," said Gallagher.
Both Gallagher and manager Jim McGuinness have spent the past week assessing various aspects of the performance against Monaghan in last Sunday's Ulster final in which they were surprisingly beaten by 0-13 to 0-7.
And he believes that the inordinate amount of turnovers conceded by Donegal proved a contributory factor in their downfall.
"We must protect our possession and recycle the ball quickly," states Gallagher. "We also need to get off to a good start. We simply cannot afford to find ourselves chasing the game."
It is understood that the Donegal officials and players were disturbed by the injuries sustained by Mark McHugh in an early clash with Monaghan's Stephen Gollogly, but they appear to be keeping their counsel on this issue.
McGuinness admitted after the game that the loss of McHugh had been a big factor in the defeat and the player is now expected to be out for several weeks, but while Gallagher is clearly still incensed by what he thought was a rash challenge by Gollogly, he is retaining his focus on the contest against a Laois side that has swept to qualifier wins over Carlow (3-13 to 0-12), Clare (3-17 to 0-10) and Wexford (0-16 to 2-8).
"What is ahead of us is an opportunity which is achievable," he said.
"We were very disappointed with our display against Monaghan, but then nobody expected Monaghan to play as well as they did. It was probably our worst performance since our Ulster Championship game with Antrim in 2011.
"However, we are still in the All-Ireland Championship with the chance to prove ourselves all over again."
Laois manager Justin McNulty too has called for a greater effort from his side despite their three qualifier wins on the bounce.
"We made mistakes in those games and we have been working on areas of our play. I would hope that we will come good tomorrow," says McNulty.