By Tom Comack email@example.com 'dgldonegal
Rory Gallagher was happy with the share of the points with the All-Ireland champions at the end of yesterday’s hard fought draw.
However, he did admit to feeling a little disappointed that his young charges did not kick on after hitting the first point of the second half to extend their lead out to four points.
“A draw was probably a fair enough result. The game see-sawed and conditions were difficult out there,” said the Donegal boss.
“We would be disappointed, even though Dublin had the breeze that we allowed them back into the game after we kicked the first score in the second half.
“We struggled to break them down. We did not score enough points to win it.
“I know there was a strong wind there but you would need to be kicking nine or 10 points to win.”
The two Donegal goals scored by Jason McGee and Ryan McHugh in the space of a minute just before half time were scored against the run of play.
Dublin led 0-5 to 0-2 at the time having dominated most of the opening half hour.
“The goals came after good play. I thought the first goal was very well created; the second goal came from a turnover from their kick-out which is something that we work on so from our point of view they were great goals.
“We were hanging in there to an extent but at the same time we did not afford them any clear goal chances but there was no doubt we were on the back-foot up to then.
“There was no doubt that the momentum was with them at the end and we showed great character. Dublin, to an extent were hanging on, we were running at them but we need to do that for longer periods of the game than we were.”
Donegal set up defensively in the first half and at times had 13 and 14 men behind the ball.
But when this was put to the Donegal boss he apportioned some of the blame on the All- Ireland champions.
“You ask Dublin about that, they sent their full-back line forward and our boys tracked them back.
“It was a scrappy day and it was a difficult day to score so maybe it was always going to be like that.”
When asked did he feel his players were being deliberately fouled to slow them down, he answered: “I probably did. We played Dublin a number of times and they know the strongest part of our game is our running game and they obviously targeted that. It was not too much a dirty game, it was a difficult game to referee; it was quite congested at times while Michael and a couple of other guys were targeted but that was to be expected.”
But overall given all the departures and all of the young players in his team the Donegal was very encouraged by Donegal’s battling performance.
“It is encouraging, you come in with so many young players, it is daunting. You take Jason McGee and put him on Brian Fenton, who has been one of the best midfielders in the last number of years, and you have Ciaran Thompson, Michael Carroll, Caolan Ward, Jamie Brennan and boys like that, who have very limited experience.
“We want to accrue as many wins as possible with those boys on the team. The likes of Mark Anthony played three games last year. Eoghan Ban and Ciaran Thompson played and we want those guys to start getting wins under their belt.
“I am happy with the character shown. The most disappointing thing was the 15 minutes either side of half-time against Kerry, when I thought we did throw in the towel.
“Sometimes when you have a team coming you have to go through that and see why it happened.
“Look, we showed a lot of naivety in conceding the goal today, but in terms of work-rate, commitment and effort shown it was very positive.
“Given the conditions, it was very energy sapping. We were on the pitch on Thursday night and it was an absolute carpet, even with a couple of days rain.
“But the rain over the last couple of days made it very energy sapping on the legs.”
The draw means Donegal have three points from three games and are probably one more win away from securing their Division One status.
However, this was not something that was on the manager’s mind.
“I don’t know,” was his response when asked would one more win be enough to secure their status.
“I’d say it would give us a good chance. The way we approach it we are taking it week on week.
“We are looking to gain that experience as a new group and be better by the end of the league than we were at the start.”
“It is hard to know. The big thing for us is that there doesn’t appear to be any injuries out of it.”
“Cavan will be fresh but we are looking forward to going to Breffni Park.
“They had a huge crowd for Dublin and it is going to be a unique experience and it is going to another big test for us.”