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Gallagher: Ulster woe is sore point for my men

Donegal 0-12 Longford 0-07

By Chris McNulty

Boss Rory Gallagher said Donegal came into Saturday's qualifier victory over Longford "very wounded and very hurt".

Donegal had none of their old mojo back, but did enough to book their place in this morning's draw for the next round.

In a game of 33 wides - 17 of them from Donegal - Gallagher's men pulled clear after Longford had James McGivney sent off in the 49th minute.

"We were in the ascendancy, it was just a matter of when we'd start taking the chances," Gallagher observed.

"The confidence was coming back by the end."

He was right, even if it did take an eternity for Donegal to shake the game Division Three outfit from their coat tails.

Longford led at half-time, 0-4 to 0-3, and the Midlanders could have made an even better fist of it had they managed to retain their composure, particularly from several routine frees that were missed.

"The sending off was the turning point," Denis Connerton, the Longford manager, said.

"There was a very difficult wind to play in there and Donegal had many wides also. It was one of those days and the wind was very contrary."

Longford lost Daniel Mimnagh to a black card in the first half and Darren Gallagher suffered a similar fate in the second.

They might have been in for a goal had Robbie Smyth managed to hold onto a McGivney pass when wide open and with only Mark Anthony McGinley to beat. Smyth, though, had his bearings all wrong and the chance was gone.

Michael Murphy and Patrick McBrearty kicked big scores for Donegal in the opening period, but the spark was absent for the most part.

Martin McElhinney came off the bench to give them an edge that was absent.

McElhinney landed a point late in the first half which brought Donegal to within one, 0-4 to 0-3, at half-time and he was on the mark again as Gallagher's men levelled the tie and raised the cheers of the 9,915 fans for the first time.

Donegal didn't lead until McBrearty arched over a free following McGivney's foul on Eoghan Ban Gallagher which resulted in his second booking.

Although Diarmuid Masterson briefly brought Longford level once again, Donegal kicked for home with McBrearty, Jamie Brennan and Eoin McHugh clipping three points in as many minutes.

A fortnight ago, Donegal's Ulster Championship hopes were crushed by Tyrone - and Gallagher admits that his men were still reeling from that loss.

The Donegal manager said: "We were coming in very wounded and very hurt. We were disappointed in ourselves as a group. We had to keep the chin up and it wasn't easy.

"There is a hangover. No matter what way you dress it up, it wasn't easy to get over it.

"We held Longford to seven points and we're happy with that. That was the big thing. We did focus a lot on defending for two weeks and that did take an edge off our attacking."

Donegal: MA McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, C Ward; E McHugh 0-1, R McHugh, E Gallagher; M Murphy 0-3f, J McGee; M Carroll, F McGlynn, M Langan; C Thompson, P McBrearty 0-5 (4f), M O'Reilly.

Subs: M McElhinney 0-2 for Carroll (28), H McFadden for J.McGee (49), J Brennan 0-1 for O'Reilly (53), M McHugh for McGlynn (55), K Lacey for Langan (56), P Brennan for Gallagher (65).

Longford: P Collum; D Masterson 0-1, P McCormack, B Gilleran; D McElligot, M Quinn, D Reynolds; John Keegan, D McGivney 0-3f; D Mimnagh, J McGivney, D Gallagher; R Smyth 0-3 (2f), L Connerton, B McKeon.

Subs: C Berry for Mimnagh (bc, 26), L Moran for Gallagher (bc, 41), A Farrell for McKeon (65), R McIntyre for D.McGivney (65), J Kelly for Connerton (70).

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).

Belfast Telegraph

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