RORY: 'We were the better side'


RORY: 'We were the better side'

Rory Gallagher enjoyed the moment after Sunday's win over Fermanagh, but he was already turning his thoughts to Saturday week's Ulster semi-final showdown with Monaghan.

It's a repeat of last year's provincial final in which Monaghan held on for a narrow win.

“The recovery process starts now,” the Donegal manager declared.

“The bodies will be sore. We picked up a couple of wee knocks in the game.

“A lot of wee small things went against us but at the start of the year, we knew this was going to be a big 13 days in the season. In order for the Monaghan game to be a big game, we had to win today.”

Among those 'wee small things' that went wrong was the dismissal of Neil McGee just before half time. When asked for his thoughts on the incident, without the benefit of viewing the replay, Gallagher moved to defend his player.

“I thought I heard a whistle for a free out and Neil's adamant that he heard a whistle, and tried to shrug the man off,” Gallagher said.

Pressed further on McGee's part in the incident, Gallagher responded: “All I would say is, there was a decision on the sideline beside us where there was an elbow on the head to one of our players and the referee gave a free for it. Why give a free and not act on it?

“We're happy to get the win and move on, if Neil's gone, he's gone.”

His defender is now facing suspension and is almost certainly out of the semi-final. The manager said the Gaoth Dobhair man's loss will be huge for Donegal.

“He's the best full-back in the country, but we'll look at the evidence. We'll see what the story is, but if he's out, he's out.”

On the plus side, Gallagher is expecting to have Karl Lacey available for the Monaghan game. The experienced Four Masters man was named in the starting line-up but watched the action from the main stand after being left out of the squad altogether.

“Karl had a minor calf strain that he'd picked up a couple of weeks ago,” Gallagher said.

“He was touch and go and we decided, one way or another, we'd have a game in 13 days time and there was a likelihood that if he had played, that he could re-injure it.”

Looking back on yesterday's victory, the Donegal boss said there were a lot of positives to take from the win, even if his team had struggled a bit in the period just before the break.

“The workrate was savage,” he said.

“If you were to take out the 10 or 12 minute period before half time, I thought we were very good.

“I thought we were way the better team and I thought we were comfortable really in the end.”

He added: “Once the second goal went in, we went 2-7 to 0-8 up and then we were 2-10 to 0-8 up and at eight points, we made the decision, let's just get out of here. Don't leave too many gaps at the back and get out of here with the win.”

Gallagher said his team were never going to get it easy against Fermanagh.

“Fermanagh are an extremely competitive team. They came in here with genuine aspirations of winning.

“Two points up and a man down (at half-time), wasn't a great position to be in but I thought we showed great maturity and control in the second half and a lot of the younger players stepped up as well.”

Debutante, Mark Anthony McGinley's penalty save was one of the key moments in the game. Gallagher said he was pleased with his keeper's display.

“A couple of kick-outs didn't go to plan but overall I thought he was good.

“Even right at the end there, he'd a catch underneath the crossbar.

“We'd have great faith in him. We've had Mark Anthony in from last year, probably since March or April 2015, we knew it was likely Papa (Paul Durcan) was not going to be here and then Michael Boyle picked up a cruciate, so we've been working away. We have a lot of confidence in him.”

Asked about the contribution of some of his younger players, Gallagher was more than happy with how they did.

“We had seven or eight lads who weren't involved in 2012 and I suppose there is a wee bit of a transition from that point of view,” he added.

“But we still feel that we have a really good team and we can be a match for anyone.”