ALLIANZ NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIV ONE

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher praises best performance so far this year against Cavan

Peter Campbell

Reporter:

Peter Campbell

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher praises best performance so far this year against Cavan

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher

Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher, was pretty pleased with the way his side performed on Saturday night with the win over Cavan.

“I’m very pleased with the performance. I thought it was a very complete performance. We played well over the first half to be more than two up. We had to react again as well and that’s a test of character, to be able to get over the fact that you should be five, six points up.

“I thought in the second half that we were very, very composed,” said Gallagher.

“We watched Cavan and I felt we did a big of homework on them and I felt it paid off.”

There were plenty of things that pleased the manager especially the control they exercised throughout the contest.

“We missed a number of chances. Up until the sending off we were creating a lot of chances, but that happens.

“Then when they got the sending off, they went with a very distinct style of play. In some ways it was better. We had the half-time to regroup and get ready for the second half.”

Asked if Cavan could have been reduced to 13 before the break when Dara McVeety escaped a second card, Gallagher said: “Maybe, but look, we made use of the extra man. We didn’t always do that in the past and I’m delighted we did.”

When asked about the good start to the second half, Gallagher was quick to praise Hugh McFadden and Eoin McHugh for the scores.

“To be fair to big Hughie, it was a great score, at a time when we had been struggling for scores. Then Eoin (McHugh) put the goal away in style. I suppose he has been threatening that at this level and it’s good to have players of his quality who can do things like that.”

He also had plenty of praise for man of the match, Ciaran Thompson: “I thought he was really good and gave a terrific display. One of the biggest things was that he missed a couple or dropped a few short in the first half, but he kept going and kept going. We’re just delighted with Ciaran and long may it continue.”

Donegal are comfortable in the Division One table now with five points but Gallagher said he isn’t too worried about that.

“I don’t know. It seems to be a fascination of everybody else. We just want to stay in Division One. We will just keep the head down and train hard. The club leagues are coming; it will be a week break, but we will look forward to Tyrone. Three massive games coming up, Tyrone, Monaghan and Mayo and we’re looking forward to them.

“We’re happy out. The fact that we played very well today is a good boost. But we will look forward to training. The boys might have a bit of fun tonight but we will regroup on Monday.”

Asked about Patrick McBrearty missing out, Rory said: “We knew it was a long shot and he didn’t make it. We could have risked him but it wasn’t worth it. We would always like to have all our key players. We had Martin (McElhinney) back on the bench. We’re looking forward to having Karl (Lacey), Kieran Gillespie, Rory Carr got the all-clear this week. Cian Mulligan is not far away and we feel they are all players who will compete for game time with us.”

Donegal now have a weekend off but then comes games at U-21 and senior against Tyrone.

“It will be a big four days for Donegal. We had 15 U-21s training with us practically full-time. It’s a big week in the rivalry between Donegal and Tyrone. We will look forward to the boys going to Omagh and then playing them in Ballybofey.”

As for survival in Division One, Rory is looking at a bigger picture.“We want to win every game. You only get seven league games and we really look forward to them. We try to maximise every training session; it is all wee building blocks. Cavan and Roscommon are below us; I’m not so sure that five points will be enough, we will need to get another two soon.”

The manager was happy that Saturday night’s game was an important game to win as it puts distance between themselves and the bottom teams.

“Yeah, it was a huge game to win. But really, honestly, we’re focussing on ourselves, trying to get the win, trying to get huge performances and build a good unity.

“I think it was the best quality football we have played, especially in the second half, we got the rewards,” said Gallagher, who felt the side didn’t get the rewards of their performance in the first half.

Gallagher pointed out that Donegal have had great performances from marquee players over the last years and they were now looking for new lads to step up, said Rory, who said it had been difficult for the likes of Jamie Brennan in some games.

“We are trying to develop players to make an impact on championship. We have no player pigeon holed, but no doubt today he (Brennan) made a big impact.

“It takes time. Very few players hit the ground running like Patrick (McBrearty). But the likes of Ciaran Thompson, he was with us in 2015, but he has hit ground running this year. He was unfortunate last year that he picked up the knee injury. But he has that natural confidence, everyone can see he is a quality player from a long way off,” said Gallagher, who added that building a panel for championship was all that it was about.