Rory Gallagher turns his thoughts to the Dubs


Diarmaid Doherty @dgldemocrat

And so the All Ireland championship campaign is back on track.

Donegal had a point to prove after the defeat to Tyrone 13 days earlier.

Their opponents Cork, with points to prove of their own, may have fancied their chances of adding to Donegal’s Ulster fnal woes.

And for a long time during Saturday's Round4 qualifier, especially in the first half, Donegal looked in a spot of bother.

Rory Gallagher had said his players needed to put that Clones defeat behind them as they prepared for the challenge of Cork.

“It is hard, and nobody can hide from the fact that the Ulster Championship is a very special prize and we invested a lot of energy into it,” he said after Saturday’s game.

“If you don’t have it, you can feel sorry for yourselves or you can decide to get on with it.

“We have a very mature group of players who are led by a lot of really good players. They are very strong characters and from the Tuesday on, it was very much move on.”

Those strong characters all played their part in Saturday’s win over Cork - none more so than Patrick McBrearty whose 11 points were a quite incredible return from a player who hardly put a foot wrong until an unfortunate black card close to the end.

“Paddy was very good and I thought himself and Michael worked really well,” his manager said.

“Overall we got a good bit of ball into him.

“Look, I’m delighted for Patrick, he’s an exceptional talent and he works really hard on his game.”

And referring to the black card, Gallagher said: “We’ll not lose any sleep over it.

“I think that’s his first one, the danger is if you pick up three of them.”

McBrearty did most of his damage in a first half in which the Munster side were on top.

By half time, they led by a point, Paul Kerrigan’s goal helping them into a 1-9 to 0-11 lead at the break.

Gallagher admitted to being concerned at that stage.

“We were probably delighted to be only a point down at half-time considering Cork had controlled a large degree of the proceedings,” he said.

“We showed great character and Patrick had scored a couple of great points to keep us in it.

“A point down having played as averagely as we did wasn’t a bad place to be.”

Thankfully for Donegal, they got on top after half time, helped by the introduction of a number of players from the bench. Indeed by the time McBrearty got black-carded close to the finish, Gallagher had used up his full quota of replacements so Donegal ended with 14.

Leo McLoone was first to come in, introduced in place of Kavanagh.

The Naomh Conaill man certainly impressed as Donegal sought to overturn Cork's lead.

Christy Toye later came on for Anthony Thompson; Hugh McFadden, Mark McHugh and Eamonn Doherty would later come off the bench.

The manager felt the changes worked well.

“We had a couple of boys carrying a couple of knocks and Rory Kavanagh got a knock into the bottom of his back,” he said.

“I thought the lads who came on made a good difference. Cork had subs as well who did well.”

Looking ahead to Saturday and the quarter-final meeting with Dublin, Gallagher was already pushing the positives.

“Dublin didn’t know who they were playing up until today,” he pointed out.

He added: “We’ve got the physical exertion to get out of our system. I’d be confident that we can do that.

“A week’s a long time for these lads and we’ll have to get our heads around it very quickly now.”

Donegal's game with Dublin next Saturday evening will throw-in at 6pm.

At 4pm Tyrone will play Mayo who were victorious over Westmeath in their qualifier on Saturday.

These games will be preceded by the All Ireland Junior Final between Mayo and Kerry at 2pm.

Saturday is likely to see Croke Park hosting its first sell-out of the summer.

A limited number of tickets went on public sale throughout the country yesterday with the remaining tickets allocated to the clubs, County Committees and GAA season ticket holders.