BEFORE Donegal left the capital on Saturday night, they immediately turned their minds to their next task.
After falling at Ulster’s final fence, Rory Gallagher’s team got back on the horse on Saturday to leap over Cork, with Patrick McBrearty’s eleven points cracking the whip.
Now, the vanquished Ulster finalists are trotting towards Dublin, Gaelic football’s Becher’s Brook, Foinavon and The Canal Turn all rolled into one, imposing, daunting hurdle.
The morning after games, Donegal usually meet up for a recovery session, but this weekend was different.[adrotate group=”43″]
In the moments after beating Cork, Donegal’s players were in the swimming pool of the Regency Hotel, owned by the McGettigan family from Kilmacrennan. The recovery and, with it, thoughts of Dublin, began immediately.
“That’s what you train for, to get your body in a condition that it can play back-to-back games,” says Donegal captain Michael Murphy on the seven-day turnaround before they face the defending All-Ireland champions.
“That’s what the training has been geared to. I think we’re fit and ok for it.
“It’s a huge game, but it was the aim for us.[adrotate group=”68″]
“Everyone knows what they bring to the table. They’re very difficult to analyse with the amount of powers they bring. They’re a well-oiled machine that has been there, done that over the years.”
Donegal came in for sharp criticism after losing the Ulster final against Tyrone when a late trio of points by Sean Cavanagh, Peter Harte and Kieran McGeary denied Murphy the chance to collect the Anglo Celt.
After 71 minutes of that game, Donegal were in front and Murphy believes the analysis to have been skewed.[adrotate group=”38″]
He says: “Our performance against Tyrone wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. We know where we are and where we need to get to now.”
When Paul Kerrigan slammed in a goal for Cork to put them five up on Saturday evening, Donegal sensed déjà vu as the feelings of pained defeats at headquarters flooded back.
Donegal, with Patrick McBrearty immense, hit back and took charge of things again in the second half.
Colm O’Neill had Cork 1-14 to 0-15 ahead in the 52nd minute, but McBrearty and Eoin McHugh landed points to level the game for the eighth time.[adrotate group=”70″]
Donegal’s defence was unusually porous for long spells, but in the last 25 minutes of action – including the now-customary six minutes of added time – Cork scored just once.
“It was a good response,” Murphy says.
“It’s never easy coming off a provincial final defeat, but the reaction has been very good. We knew we needed a better response in Croke Park than we showed in previous years when we faltered, stuttered and stammered.
“The Championship can throw up these kind of games. Teams, sometimes, can be a bit tentative, but it was helter-skelter and hard against Cork. It was in the melting pot and we stood up.[adrotate group=”37″]
“Cork controlled large periods, but we hung in there and responded after their goal, chipping on scores. We got some back-to-back scores, which was key.”
Murphy, in that calm Glenswilly tone, reckons it’s not a Donegal display that Dublin ‘will be too feared about’, but this is a day that Donegal wanted: A crack at the Dubs before a full house.
And they go there on the back of a scintillating display from McBreaty, who Murphy described as ‘absolutely phenomenal’ against Cork.
He says “You train alongside him and you can see the ability, the speed, skill, power and pace – he’s an all-round package – he has. He’s a joy to play with.[adrotate group=”46″]
“He’s really taking the lead up there.”Tags: