IT’S EIGHT YEARS since Donegal last found themselves in second round of the All-Ireland qualifiers but that’s exactly where they’re at again.
Back then, John Joe Doherty’s side had lost to Antrim in Ulster and their second qualifer round 0-13 to 1-7 defeat of Clare helped produce something of a springboard effect which was complimented by victories over Derry and Galway before a 1-27 to 2-10 hammering against Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher before this afternoon’s Ulster SFC semi final against Tyrone. Photo Evan Logan
Rory Gallagher is well enough versed in football but would prefer to look forward now instead of back. However, the Donegal manager did admit in the aftermath of Donegal’s 1-21 to 1-12 defeat against Tyrone in yesterday’s Ulster semi-final that the back door wasn’t something he looked into. For the record, Donegal an play Laois, Sligo, Derry or Longford in round 2A, most probably on Saturday, July 1.
Gallagher said: “Whatever it is, it is – we hadn’t contemplated it.”
Tyrone were considered favourites yesterday in Clones but when it was 0-5 to 0-5 after 25 minutes nobody was overly surprised with the proximity of things when all the recent meetings considered.
However, Tyrone spun off seven points in a row to go in 0-12 to 0-5 up at half-time and then Tiernan McCann’s goal effectively killed the contest as early as the 37th minute.
With the scores at 0-4 to 0-4, Eoin McHugh passed up on a great goal chance when he blasted wide in a one-on-one with Niall Morgan.
Gallagher added: “If you got a goal at that stage, even having played quite poorly coming up to half-time it would have meant a reasonable gap, but Tyrone will feel that they should have has a goal as well. Over all we can’t afford to defend like that. We sat off Tyrone players coming through and we just allowed them to dictate.”
Whatever about McHugh’s miss, Tyrone might’ve had a hatful of goals with McCann on the mark, Peter Harte going close, Padraig Hampsey shooting over and Sean Cavanagh and Rory Brennan drawing good saves from Mark Anthony McKinley, while Ryan McHugh also blocked on the line from Darren McCurry. Tyrone’s abilities to turnover created the majority of their chances.
“A lot it we kept the ball away at their end of the field and rather than break tackle and keep the ball, we gave it away rather carelessly,” Gallagher added.
“It wasn’t a good position to be; there was a bit of a slight breeze and we had it but again our defending was very poor for Tiernan McCann’s goal. The game petered out after that. We showed a lack of fight as well which was disappointing”