RORY SCRATCHES THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH

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RORY SCRATCHES THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH

Rory Gallagher was watching Cork yesterday after a very satisfactory opening win in the Allianz National League on Saturday night against Down in Newry.

The Donegal manager could hardly have had an easier night on the sideline as his charges proved much too strong for a lightweight Down side, to get a first away win in the top flight in seven years.

"We are where we want to be tonight, and that's having two points. Listen, it's good to win away from home. We haven't done that it in a long time; we had two defeats here in 2012 and 2014.

"We are just delighted to have won here tonight and got off to a good start," said Gallagher, who said he was well aware of the fact that Donegal hadn't won a Division One game away from home since beating Westmeath in 2009.

"We are constantly reminded of it in Donegal. We can't really understand it because there is no real difference whether we are in Breffni or in Clones on Championship day. We love playing at home; we feel we are at our best there, but we drew our last league game last year in Mayo, so we are on a bit of a roll."

The Donegal manager was happy enough with the performance but felt that Down were a little below par.

"It was (a good performance) at times. But look, in the first half, we got a cushion with six or seven from frees. We would be pleased, but to be fair to Down, they had a lot of players away at colleges and they have a new management in and trying a lot of new things, so we have to be conscious of that.

"Once we got the first goal the heads dropped a bit," said Gallagher.

The manager felt that the loss of Neil McGee could have been costly, but was happy with the way his side kicked on after the penalty save.

"There was a mix up and it was a bad penalty to give away; and then losing Neil McGee, who was playing really well was the disappointing thing. But in fairness to Peter (Boyle), he guessed right. But at the same time, we pushed on from there at 4-3 and we pushed it out to 9-3 at half-time.”

Rory was not going to be drawn on the referee and five black cards in the game, but he felt that Neil McGee was unlucky to get a black card. "I felt it was a genuine attempt to get the ball which I wouldn't deem cynical. We are using soccer, last man type rules there. But look the referee sees it, he calls it and we can't really argue with it," said Gallagher.

The Donegal boss was delighted with the performances of the young players given their chance on the night.

"It is something we were conscious of (that we weren't getting enough young players through). Since Jim took over and I got involved at the end of 2010/2011, only Ryan (McHugh) and Odhran (MacNiallais) have broken into the first fifteen. We are genuinely looking for another seven or eight fellas. We are delighted with the underage players coming through, but also the likes of Eamonn Doherty, Hugh McFadden and Marty O'Reilly played a lot last year and created plenty of competition.

"It was a good position to be in (at half-time) but once we got the goal we pushed on," said Gallagher, who added that it was good to get Neil Gallagher and Rory Kavanagh on the field. "They don't have a lot of work done. Rory was only really integrated this week, but what was more pleasing to me was to see Stephen McBrearty and Caolan McGonigle come on and make their debuts. Both are quality players and they played Sigerson this week and it was good for them to get senior football.

"We are really looking forward to the challenge next week. We always do well in Ballyshannon; looking forward to that. Look we want to test ourselves every week and see where we go," said Gallagher.