Donegal manager Rory Gallagher
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher had no complaints about the result and acknowledged Kerry were the better team but he was also encouraged with his charges’ strong finish.
Donegal came from ten points down in the middle of the second half to come within a penalty call of earning a dramatic share of the points.
Gallagher also defended the decision to play a more attacking style than they have played in recent seasons.
“We made a decision that we were going with a certain type of play,” said the Donegal manager afterwards.
“We have probably changed it from what we were used to from the last four years.
“We have a very young team and lost Neil before the game. But we said we would give everyone a go early on and you expect lots of tough days in the national league when you are playing the top teams.”
When Donegal went ten points down shortly after Kerry’s second goal, the Donegal boss said the game could have gone one of two ways at that stage.
“Kerry could have really pulled away and turned the screw or Donegal could refuse to buckle and fight back.” And fight back they did and Jason McGee had a late call for a penalty turned away by referee Maurice Deegan.
“We fought back and showed great courage and conviction to come back at them.
“1-17 would get you over the line most days. So as I said we are changing the way we play football over the last number of years.
“We are trying out a number of new players and there are going to be days like that so we are trying to marry the two together.
“With the forward line Kerry named we could make a decision to camp in our own half and try and get a result. But we have to look at the bigger picture and that is what we tried to do.
“You would see small wee things that they would be a wee bit nervous that if they were playing club football or at training they would pull the trigger but these things come with experience.”
On Jason McGee’s penalty call Rory Gallagher said that naturally, he would have given it.
“Naturally if you are from Donegal you are hoping for a penalty but he mentioned to Maxi there was no foul.
“We finished well. But we have to be honest in our evaluation of the game.
“We said that we would be brutally honest and Kerry are a good bit down the line from ourselves going by today. We’ve got to be real. Kerry were much the better team.
“We put that pressure on ourselves. We approach every game feeling we have to win every game.
“In the last few years we have won three games and it has been enough to survive in the division.
“We will look next week to Roscommon.The games come thick and fast but you have to be true to yourself and we will have to improve a good bit to beat Roscommon.
“You are always disappointed to lose but if we won today you’d say we won’t get carried away and it is the same here.”
Three time All-Star fullback Neil McGee was a late withdrawal due to illness and was replaced by Frank McGlynn.
“Neil woke up with a vomiting bug. To be fair I felt our back line did well. Kerry had huge space at times but I felt it was their runners from midfield that gave us bother,” insisted Gallagher
“When you are trying to put more scores on the other side of the field and a lot of experience gone it left us a bit open and that is something we will have to improve on.
“Kerry dominated. In the second half we got a few away short. David Moran was a colossus I thought at midfield. We battled well with them in the second when Michael was there.
“The last number of years we haven’t been able to get enough scores. It is something we have challenged the lads on.
“We need more of an outlet, more people able to get the ball over the bar. We have centred on Patrick and Michael and Ryan too much over the last year or so.
“This league will be a huge learning curve and we have got to be united and keep digging when things aren’t going well on the pitch.
“But the boys are aware that that is what we are expecting from them. We are a wee bit disappointed that towards the end of the first half we didn’t battle as well and some of the heads did drop.
“Naturally when you play a team with Kerry’s quality that will happen sometimes.”
On the withdrawal of Marty O’Reilly, Paddy McGrath and Hugh McFadden, he said they were all for precautionary reasons.
“Marty and Hugh were complaining of tight hamstrings and Paddy McGrath had surgery on a jaw injury before Christmas,” said Rory.