Donegal had hoped to go through the front door and straight into a fifth All-Ireland SFC quarter-final game in succession.
But after losing out to Monaghan, Rory Gallagher Rory Gallagher and his men must face Galway this Saturday in Croke Park (throw-in 6 pm) in a round 4B All-Ireland Qualifier to get to the last eight.
“We had spoken in the lead up to the Ulster final, win or lose, as soon as it was over we were going to getting programmed for the next stage of the All-Ireland series and we were going to put to bed the Ulster championship,” said the Donegal manager.
“And that is very much what we have done. We would have very much liked to be Ulster champions, but we are not and it is a test of everybody in the group how much we want to progress in the All-Ireland series,” the Donegal boss went on.
“We were back training last Tuesday night and that was the plan regardless of whether we won or lost against Monaghan.”
Donegal go into Saturday’s game with four games played, one less than opponents Galway, who played three games in the Connacht championship and two in the Qualifiers.
Both sides have lost one game each. Donegal recorded three wins, over Tyrone, Armagh and Derry, in the Ulster championship before going down in last Sunday week’s final by a point to Monaghan.
Galway recorded comfortable wins over New York and Leitrim in the Connacht championship before losing to Mayo, by four points, in the Connacht semi-final.
However, they recovered from that Salthill defeat to Mayo, with good Qualifier wins over Armagh (away) and Derry at home in the last round.
Their 1-12 to 0-12 win over Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh in the Athletic Grounds set tongues wagging all around the Gaelic football world. And they followed that win over the Orchard County with a 1-11 to 0-8 win over Derry, at a wet and windy Pearse Stadium, the weekend before last.
“We haven’t seen much of Galway this year as they were not in the same division as us. Two of their championship matches have been on TV and we have got dvds of a number of the other games they played.
“They are a team on an upward curve as their last two results against Ulster teams would suggest. They have had a similar path to ourselves. We played Armagh and Derry as they did. They have changed their style somewhat from the Mayo game.
“They held Derry to 0-8 and Armagh to 0-12 and obviously they have tightened up at the back.
“But look, we have to be aware that it is Galway we are playing. But like for all games it is about ourselves and our own game right,” insisted the Donegal boss.