Gallagher ponders what might have been in game of margins
For the second consecutive year, Donegal manager Rory Gallagher choked back his disappointment and raked through the coals of an Ulster final defeat.
If there was a turning point in a game measured in millimetres such as this, it came in the 60th minute. Donegal's Frank McGlynn had been his usual self, dictating possession, when he was caught by Jonathan Munroe. Another referee might have whistled for it and a certain pointed free, but David Coldrick let it go and Tyrone equalised.
"Yeah. A two point swing..." Gallagher wondered.
"I thought it was a free we would have scored but we didn't get it. We'll have to see it on the television but I thought it was a free and I thought Ciaran Gillespie should have got a free as well a lot closer to the goal."
"We have battled hard throughout a very tough bruising Championship campaign and we played really well through periods of it but today we came up short and that is very difficult."
Just after half time, Donegal sped into a four-point lead, a margin that in previous years would have always been enough to get them home. It felt though from that point on they were always defending their lead.
Their unwillingness to take risks could have been what held them back, after a sparkling opening half.
"The attack played well in the first half but there was a wee bit of a breeze and we would have liked to have been four or five up," felt Gallagher.
"But you always want more. The bottom line is that Tyrone put on the pressure a wee bit more in the second half and they showed a lot of quality to hit the scores they did."
He added, "The nature of Tyrone is that they give you a lot of possession and they invite you on. We knew that coming in here. We just weren't able to break them down as consistently in the second half."
Donegal eyes now turn to the qualifiers, and this morning's draw will pair them with either Cork or Mayo. Given how the Connacht side filleted them after previous Ulster final defeats in 2013 and 2015, they will be praying for Cork.
"They will be the strong favourites to win their game. We wanted a three-week break and to go into the All-Ireland quarter finals as Ulster champions and have no back door game. But we have to face into that and that is one thing we will do for sure," he said.
"We would have definitely liked three weeks (to prepare for an All-Ireland quarter-final). But we didn't get it. You have to learn the lessons. You have to suck it up and get on.
"You have to put distance between yourself and the other top four or five teams and we just weren't able to put enough distance."