Eamon McGee pays tribute to Big Neil

Eamon McGee pays tribute to  Big Neil
Thanks Heavens for Big Neil Gallagher.

Thanks Heavens for Big Neil Gallagher.

That was Gaoth Dobhair’s Eamon McGee’s unabashed reaction to the Glenswilly giant’s two magnificent catches as Donegal were on the rack against Armagh in those final frenetic moments.

“The ball was coming in my direction and it came in towards me twice in succession from Tony Kernan.

“On the second free I thought he (the referee) was playing for a draw.

“Big Neil was exceptional and every year he has to battle for his place and you have to commend him as one of the best fielders in the country.”

But the ever candid Eamon was more coldly objective about his own and some of his colleagues’ performances.

“I was very disappointed at our display.

“It was not a good victory and we have a lot of work to and I am sure that when we sit down to recover on Monday (today) there will be a few tough words spoken.

“I knew it was going to be tight as Armagh were on a high.

“And they have that swagger when they get into that mode.

“They have very good players and are well drilled so it was very difficult to get over the line.

“We probably let them in with the goal and in the first half we were all over the place.

“Myself and a few other boys have to hold up our hands about the defence.

“We did not perform.”

“There is a lot of issues to work on,” said the Gaoth Dobhair man.

On the schemozzle with the Armagh trainer Kieran McGeeney he quipped:

“Kieran (McGeeney) was trying to get a message to Kevin Dyas and I said that message had better be important as we had a laugh about it earlier.”

But Eamon was less amused by some pre-match opinions from “former Donegal players” about meeting Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.

“We knew that Armagh would be well drilled.

“The hype will die down and it will take the edge of this Donegal and Dublin thing.

“It’s a bit ridiculous and it shows disrespect to the likes of Monaghan and Armagh.

“There were former players that came out and were speaking about Donegal and Dublin.

“This was ludicrous stuff and I was very disappointed with it.

“But that is outside the circle and it is only what goes on inside the circle that really matters.

“We were very dominant in the thirds quarter but were very wasteful.

“It is not like us as it is something we do every night at training and that is to work on our shooting.

“Jim coaches that point not to shoot unless you are 90-95% sure of success,” he said.

Even though Donegal were trailing by a point after 68 minutes before Murphy and McBrearty’s late winners, Eamon McGee kept the faith: “We were told not to panic and fair play to big Neil who broke a lot of ball and it got us over the line.”