Donegal manager Jim McGuinness had to put a brave face on things as he faced the media on the pitch at O’Donnell Park after the game on Sunday.
“We’re very disappointed with the performance and our energy levels,” McGuinness said. “We missed Michael (Murphy) and Colm (McFadden) a lot in the full-forward line from the point of view of attack.
“Neil Gallagher was in there and when he was in in the first half and we had a bit of a breeze at our back, we didn’t kick it in to him, and they got bodies back,” said Jim, who felt they were a wee bit better at it the second time around when Neil went back near the end.
“It was disappointing for the supporters as well who are paying good money to get in but the fitness levels aren’t there at the moment, so it definitely a lot of work for us at the minute.”
“Laois are a physically strong team and they put a lot of emphasis on that, while our three biggest players are Michael, Colm and Christy Toye and when you take them out of your team then it has an impact,” said Jim.
With no points on the board after two games, the talk among supporters turns towards relegation rather than play-off places and with the next two games against Cork and Kerry, it doesn’t get any easier.
“It was never really the issue about staying up in Division One and really trying to find players for the championship and trying to build towards the summer.
“We are a wee bit behind from that point of view from where we were last year. We have only 14 weeks today to the Cavan game (in the championship) and we have a lot of work to do before now and then.
“The good thing about Cork and Kerry coming down the track is that it gives us three weeks with a clear run at it and gives us a chance to work harder on the training field and build a bit of fitness. Fingers crossed we can get Michael (Murphy) and Colm (McFadden) and Christy (Toye) back. Eamonn McGee came on today and so did Eoin Waide and if we can get those boys back, maybe things will turn for us,” said Jim.
Earlier in the afternoon, Jim was asked live on TG4 in the build-up to the game about Kevin Cassidy’s weekend admission that he wouldn’t be returning to Donegal. Cassidy was actually involved in the TV broadcast and was just a couple of feet away.
“Kevin made his decision and that’s it,” McGuinness said. “We have to move on now. He made his comments and they are what they are. From my point of view we have dealt with the issue.”