Michael Murphy remonstrates with referee Cormac Reilly
By Peter Campbell Sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat
Donegal captain, Michael Murphy, was trying to find the positives as he spoke after the game in Castlebar.
"Ah, there was a good response on the back of a poor finish last week,” Murphy said.
“We came down here looking for a good response and we got that in the first half. It was some of the best football we played throughout the league. I thought we coped well defensively and attacking wise we were getting there.
"But yeah, in the second half, Mayo really upped the levels and probably overall we just couldn't stay with them.
“And as a result, they came back into the game. We did have a few opportunities, albeit not too many in the second half. But overall, they deserved the win.
"But likewise we will take a lot of learnings from it, as we do from every game," said Murphy.
"We came off the back of a poor second half last week.
“I thought in the first half we did attack well, but then in the second half, it wasn't there.
“We conceded too many frees in the second half and when you have a player of the calibre of Cillian O'Connor there, able to do that, they will punish you," said the Donegal captain, who felt his team need to learn from the game and move on.
"We didn't get to the league final, like it was our job to do. We have to move on," he said, pointing to the positives of the young players again doing well.
"There was a number of huge performances again from the younger players. Jamie Brennan was brilliant; Eoghan Ban (Gallagher) was excellent. Cian Mulligan was absolutely phenomenal. Some of his points there in the second half were excellent.
“For those lads to come in there and look so much at ease is brilliant for us, despite the disappointment of the result."
The Donegal captain didn't want to dwell on whether it had been a good league or not for Donegal, but felt a number of the younger players were putting their hand up for the championship.
"It's hard to look at it being a good league (at this stage). We didn't win the game.
“Disappointed, yeah, but you have to look at the bigger picture and the championship; it's about playing championship football and I would like to think there are a number of them there now that put their hand up. They can push on with the U-21s in the next few weeks, and then get the bodies out on the field to prepare for the championship."
Murphy wants Donegal to take whatever they can from the game, but the focus now will be on championship and the meeting with Antrim in May.
“We have a lot of work under our belts already this year, and we want to continue that. We want to keep the levels and the standards up and not forget the learnings from today's game," said the Glenswilly man.
Asked about the bust-up some 17 minutes into the second half which seemed to change the course of the game, Murphy wasn't blaming that totally for the Donegal collapse.
"It's hard to know. I suppose Mayo got a helluva lot of free kicks there in the second half, albeit they weren't all bad decisions.
“There were some clumsy tackles. Yes, I felt there were some that were a bit iffy. But overall, we have to improve our discipline and it's something we have to look at.
“Likewise, we have to look at why we didn't come out and play the way we did in the first half, and that was the big issue for us," said Murphy, who added that people will have different opinions as to what was the turning point.
"But we had chances; I had a chance myself from a free. But overall we have to move on and take the positives, especially from the first half, and likewise, not getting near that standard in the second half is something that we have to address," he said.