GAA QUALIFIER, DONEGAL V LONGFORD

Gallagher: 'A line has been drawn under Tyrone defeat'

Donegal boss turns his focus to Longford challenge

Tom Comack

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Tom Comack

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sport@donegaldemocrat.com

Donegal v Longford

Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher has drawn a line under Donegal’s Ulster semi-final defeat by Tyrone and his total focus is Saturday evening’s All-Ireland Qualifier against Longford, in Ballybofey. (Throw-in 5pm)
The Donegal boss was disappointed with the defeat by the Red Hands on Sunday week last in Clones. And he was especially disappointed with many aspects of the performance that saw his team slump to a nine point defeat at the hands of Mickey Harte and his team.
“Naturally we, the management and players, were disappointed with the defeat and the manner in which it happened,” the Donegal boss told the Democrat this week.
“We have watched the game back and have studied where it went wrong for us on the day and we are working on correcting those things.
“I suppose the good thing about having so many young lads in the squad is that they can put the disappointment behind them fairly quickly and move on.
“Regardless how the Tyrone game went we were due back in training the following Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.
“And that’s what we did. We had our recovery session on the Monday night and we watched the game back and we trained Tuesday and Thursday night.
“We trained again on Saturday and on Sunday and that was the plan regardless how we fared against Tyrone.
“Regardless, we were still going to be in the championship. We would have prefered to have won and to be preparing for an Ulster final, but that did not work out and there was no guarantee that we were going to qualify for the final. It was a 50/50 game at best.
“We didn’t perform on the day and Tyrone were much the better team and we have no complaints on that front.
“We are just disappointed with the way they opened us up at the back and picked off scores and put us on the back foot. We are not happy about that and we have spoken among ourselves about why it happened.
“It is about learning from the Tyrone game and moving on and getting ready for Longford on Saturday and getting things up and running again.”
Longford play in Division Three of the Allianz National League and avoided the drop to Division Four by virtue of scoring average and just about survived in the division in the season just gone.
They ended up on five points from their two wins and a draw and a better scoring average than Antrim, who also ended on five points. Antrim were relegated from Division Three along with Laois.
Longford lost out to Laois in the Leinster championship in O’Moore Park (4-15 to 0-16), but they bounced back the weekend before last to maintain their record of not having lost a first round Qualifier game in nine seasons.
They defeated Louth, the Division Three league champions, 2-15 to 1-10, in a game where Louth ended with 12 men.
Full-forward Liam Connerton, from the penalty spot, and corner forward, Barry McKeon, scored the Longford goals.
Robbie Smyth, in the right corner of the attack, hit 0-7 against Louth, four from frees and he posted 0-11 against Laois.
So he is one to watch on Saturday evening and would seem tailormade for Paddy McGrath.
They were without their best forward, Sean McCormack, for the Louth game. The other big name in their line up is International Rules player Mickey Quinn, who has also lined out for Leinster in the Inter-provincials.
“Longford are not a team we know much about as we haven’t played them in recent years,2 Gallagher said.
“But in fairness it is not that difficult to pick up things about teams nowadays.
“What we do know is that they are definitely a team that do well in the Qualifiers and they have taken out a number of big teams in recent years. Last year they beat Monaghan in Clones so that will give you some idea what we are up against.”
The Donegal boss insisted that Donegal’s focus was on their own performance and learning from the Tyrone game and getting into the right frame of mind for Longford and 5 pm on Saturday.
Other than St Eunan’s Rory Carr, who is a member of the extended squad, Donegal have no injury concerns. All of which means that Rory Gallagher and his management team of Maxi Curran and Brendan Kilcoyne have a fully fit squad to select from when they sit down this evening (Thursday) to select the starting 15 and 26-man match day squad.