The senior Donegal panel members will take time to decide their futures after Saturday’s exit from the All-Ireland championship to Mayo.
Donegal’s quest for a fourth All-Ireland semi-final in five years came to an end as they lost out to Mayo by 2-13 to 0-11 in front of 61,784 supporters in Croke Park.
Donegal were hit with a sucker goal in first half added time as Aidan O’Shea won a high ball to squeeze it to the net.
Then they were dealt an even bigger blow early in the second half when Lee Keegan, a constant threat to the Donegal defence, saw his effort for a point loop over the head of Paul Durcan to open a gap of seven points.
Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher, felt the second goal took the wind out of the Donegal sails. “Very disappointing. We came down and we felt it would be nip and tuck. And that’s probably how it was panning out coming up to half-time. But the two goals were big game-changers, probably more so the second one,” said Gallagher.
After Keegan’s goal, the energy seemed to drain from the Donegal team and their arduous campaign came to the fore. The loss of Neil McGee to injury was another factor but in fairness to them they kept going with Michael Murphy, almost single-handedly, keeping Donegal within reach.
“We kept trying but we needed a goal to kick us into life,” said the manager, who felt his side were “clutching at straws” after the second goal.
The defeat, after a very tough six-match campaign, was difficult to take, especially for the older members of the squad who have given so much to the Donegal shirt in the past ten or more years.
Two of those, Christy Toye and Eamon McGee, were very measured when asked about their futures, saying now was not the time to make decisions.
“Under the stand in Croke Park is never a good place to talk about the future. I will see and there are a lot of factors to be weighed up,” was Eamon McGee’s mature reflection.
For Christy Toye, who along with Colm McFadden, are the longest servants, any decision will not be made in haste. “It is time for reflection alright but I’ll get the club championship over first before I start thinking of 2016,” said Toye.
The Donegal players will return to club fare next weekend with league games and the RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta club championship is likely to resume on the following weekend.
There was good news for Neil McGee, who was taken to casualty in Dublin after leaving the field against Mayo.
Neil was later discharged and a family source said that he had suffered nothing more than bruising and was okay.