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Donegal's Rory Gallagher stays upbeat after heavy Dublin loss


Making ground: Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty with Cian O’Sullivan of Dublin

Making ground: Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty with Cian O’Sullivan of Dublin

©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

Making ground: Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty with Cian O’Sullivan of Dublin

Not to single out Mark Anthony McGinley, Peter Boyle or anyone who has tended goal for Donegal in the absence of Paul Durcan since he packed his bags for Qatar, but they will know they are in for a shorter summer without the former Four Masters custodian.

Their failure to gain any type of possession from their own restarts led to a 1-20 to 0-13 defeat to Dublin in the Division One semi-final at Croke Park and afterwards, manager Rory Gallagher faced questions about kickout strategies.

"Our kickout strategies don't change regardless of the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper has got to adapt to the strategies we have," he answered.

As for Durcan's future?

He added: "I wish I had a euro for every time someone has asked me that! I'm unsure of his situation."

McGinley actually performed well here, with one save from Paul Mannion standing out, but being a goalkeeper nowadays is about so much more than merely keeping the ball out.

With Durcan back and producing his trademark disguised kickouts, they have a better chance of challenging for honours, starting with meeting the winners of the Ulster Championship provincial round between Antrim and Fermanagh, on June 12.

Far from being put out by the nine-week wait, Gallagher declared himself pleased.

"We're delighted," he said. "It's the first time in years that we've been the last team out in Ulster and it's something we've really been looking forward to all year.

"We always felt if we were able to survive in the division then we'd look forward to that.

"There will be club league and there is a round of the club championship but we have no problem with that. We'll have a couple of challenge games as well and we think it's a positive that we have that gap this year."

As for this game, it was over as a contest in the first minute of the second-half. Philly McMahon probed for an opening and when he delivered it to Bernard Brogan, his marker Neil McGee had a senior moment, losing him completely. Brogan placed his shot in the corner, and Dublin rattled over a further nine points to make it to the league final against Kerry.

Dubs boss Jim Gavin said: "The last quarter of the game fizzled out. Donegal pose a lot of threats, they could get a goal at any time and put you under pressure. They have a lot of work to do in terms of fitness for the Championship and I'm sure they have their eye on that. We're just happy to have another game."

While Dublin were able to find threats everywhere from their team, Donegal relied on Patrick McBrearty and Michael Murphy place kicks to stay in touch for the most part. When they got a quick break going, a mixture of a lack of composure and a case of the Dubs learning lessons from that seismic 2014 All-Ireland semi-final meant they did not take advantage.

There were only mild protestations from Gallagher when it was put to him that in granting his players a week off, he essentially conceded the game.

He said: "We came down to give it our best shot. It didn't change our preparations just because we were in a semi-final.

"Once the draw is made you work towards it. We wanted to perform better than we did, but there wasn't the same tactical focus as for another game."

DONEGAL: MA McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; R McHugh, K Lacey, C Gillespie; R Kavanagh, O MacNiallais; M O'Reilly, M McElhinney 0-1, F McGlynn; P McBrearty 0-8, 5f, M Murphy 0-4f, L McLoone. Subs: S McBrearty for O'Reilly (14m), C McGonagle for MacNiallais (50m), C McFadden for McElhinney (53m), E Gallagher for McLoone (67m), J O'Brien for Gillespie (70m). Yellow cards: Gillespie (26m), McFadden (59m)

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P McMahon 0-1, J Cooper 0-1, D Byrne; J McCarthy 0-1, C O'Sullivan, J Small 0-1; B Fenton, D Bastick; P Flynn, P Andrews 0-2, C Kilkenny 0-3; D Rock 0-5, 3f, 1 x '45', P Mannion 0-2, B Brogan 1-2. Subs: C Costello 0-1 for Andrews (45m), E Lowndes 0-1 for Bastick (49m), M Fitzsimons for McMahon (53m), SB Carthy for Flynn (60m), K O'Brien for Cooper (62m), S Carthy for O'Sullivan (66m)

Yellow cards: Flynn (26m), McCarthy (32m), Small (54m)

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

Attendance: 31,324.


Belfast Telegraph