Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher, said he was delighted with the response from Donegal when they were rocked by the Mayo goal from the penalty.
Gallagher was speaking after watching his Donegal charges maintain their 100% record in the Allianz National Football League against a physical Mayo side in Ballybofey.
Thanks to a Diarmuid O’Connor goal from the penalty spot, Mayo were three points clear and Donegal were looking down the barrel as the game entered the final quarter, but they responded magnificently to dominate the remainder of the game.
“We knew that we were going to get a tough game today. I thought Mayo were top class in the first half. They were by far the better team and we were delighted to go in a point down at half-time,” said Gallagher.
“We came out (in the second half) and I thought we got a grip of the game. Mayo scored the penalty but we dug in and we showed an awful lot of hunger. The subs that came in made a big difference.”
The manager was especially pleased to get the better of one of Donegal’s bogey sides in recent times and feels the character shown was the difference.
“No. 1 you learn every day but you learn especially playing one of the top teams in the country and that’ what you get with Mayo. Mayo have a huge level of physicality and they know how to play the game. I was delighted with the character we showed and the attitude of the boys.”
When Mayo went clear with the second half penalty, Donegal seemed to lose their discipline for a short time with three yellow cards and a black card for Neil Gallagher, but the manager did get the response he was looking for.
“We were looking for a response. It was easy to say, ‘that’s the way it is’, but we scored a brilliant goal and that’s what you want and we have the players that can do that.
“Look, we’re delighted to come out on the right side of the result. Mayo will probably feel a wee bit aggrieved as they played very well as well.”
Asked about the performance of referee, Barry Cassidy, Gallagher would not be drawn too far.
“There were a lot of decisions which we felt could have gone our way. But look, I will always see it like that. We showed an awful lot of character.”
As for the Neil Gallagher black card, the manager said:
“I would be pretty sure he was fouled, but he did trip the fella, and that’s the rule.”
The game saw Rory Kavanagh starting his first game and also saw the reintroduction of Christy Toye.
“It was always the target to get them game time. We haven’t wasted any time of Rory (Kavanagh) and he is playing as good as ever.”
Asked about the injury picked up by Martin O’Reilly near the end, the manager felt it was not serious.
“Marty should be okay. He got a bang on the shoulder but he should be okay in a couple of days.”
Next Sunday, Donegal will be in Austin Stack Park, Tralee, to renew rivalry with Kerry, who got their first points of the campaign against Down in Newry. Gallagher is travelling in confident mood and feels that Donegal are on the right track.
“To be fair Monaghan, Mayo, Kerry and Dublin have been a problem for us in the last number of years. We now have Kerry next. But there’s no easy game in Division One. You see Roscommon today (beating Cork away) and Monaghan last night (losing out to Dublin),” said Gallagher.
The win leaves Donegal top of the Division One table ahead of Dublin by virtue of their vastly superior scoring difference