The biggest disappointment for Rory Gallagher following yesterday’s one point defeat to Monaghan was that his charges had not taken all their chances when on top.
Donegal dominated the opening quarter and led 1-4 to 0-0 after 20 minutes thanks to a super move and finish from Martin McElhinney.
“We are very disappointed after being 1-4 to no score after 20 minutes and having missed a number of chances at being further ahead by that stage,” said the Donegal boss.
He was also disappointed to concede the Monaghan goal so soon after scoring their own and allowing Monaghan back into the game.
Yet, despite all of that, the former Fermanagh star forward felt that Donegal were in a good position at half-time.
“We were three points up and playing well and and had created chances and probably should have further in front at half-time and possibly should have been five or six points up, even though we had conceded the goal,” he insisted.
“But we weren’t and it seemed as if we ran out of steam in the second half and Monaghan’s needs were greater than ours.
“They were up for the game and in front of their own supporters and you could hear the roar going up every time they scored or turned over the possession. It was a combination of us tiring and they really wanting it more than us that probably made the difference in the end.”
However, he also insisted that was no excuse and was disappointed that his charges’ second half performance did not match that of their first half performance.
“We are just disappointed that we did not produce the level of performance in the second half after what I thought was an excellent first half performance.
“We were really on top early on and we had a few good scoring chances before we scored the goal. We should have had six or seven points along with the goal but we didn’t and paid the price in the end.”
On the question of running out of steam and that fitness was a factor the manager responded: “I said after the first three games we have not done a lot of work given the age profile of the players. I think that is definitely a factor that we have tired in the last ten or 15 minutes, but I wouldn’t say it is the only factor” .
And what were his thoughts on facing Dublin in the league semi-final next weekend in Croke Park?
“We knew either way there was a good chance that we would be in the semi-final. It is not the way we would have liked to go into a game against the Dubs in Croke Park.
“But that is the way it has turned out. We will give the lads the first part of the week off as we had always planned at the end of the league and regroup again towards the end of the week.”
And despite the view that Dublin are the form team, Gallagher insisted that they were not going to be overawed by the All-Ireland champions.
“We felt last week against Dublin with ten minutes to go and even with three minutes to go we were still in the game. And it was the same situation today which is encouraging and gives us something to work on ahead of the game.”
Yesterday’s defeat was Donegal’s fourth successive defeat in the league.
“It is not the way we would want it to be for sure but we have to deal with that now though I would be more concerned if we weren’t doing a lot of things right.
“I think in all four games we played some good football; the only game that that has concerned me is the first 20 minutes against Roscommon.
“Even though Monaghan were coming at us late on I felt we battled well until the end and it was a case that we did not put enough scores on the board when we were on top.
“Monaghan upped the ante in the second half and they won a lot breaking ball around midfield, something which we had been doing in the first half.”
The manager explained the absence of Neil Gallagher and Karl Lacey.
“Neil Gallagher has a back spasm. We thought he would be fit to play but he wasn’t.
Neil McGee and Frank McGlynn were back and got through the game and Karl Lacey has a bug and did not travel with us.
“Neil Gallagher isn’t getting a lot of work done in training. We thought he might have got him some game time this week but we didn’t, but he has plenty of time to be ready for the championship.”
Gallagher hopes to have Darach Jigger O’Connor and Michael Boyle back in the reckoning for the championship and also confirmed that he had spoken to Paul Durcan.
“Darach is due back to see the specialist towards the end of April and we hope to have him back soon after that. It is a similar situation with Michael Boyle.
“I have spoken to Paul Durcan and he is seeing how things are his end. But we are very pleased with Peter Boyle and I thought Mark Anthony had a great game today; he picked out a lot of kick outs and we have Michael Boyle coming back as well. So we will deal with what we have here for now.”