RORY Gallagher appears resigned to a winter of phone calls as the more senior members of his squad ponder their futures.
Of the fifteen players who started the All-Ireland final in 2014, ten will have reached their 30th birthdays by this time next year.
Only Michel Murphy, Leo McLoone, Paddy McGrath, Ryan McHugh and Darach O’Connor are the exceptions.
Neil McGee and Frank McGlynn are closing in on the 30 mark while Eamon McGee, Karl Lacey, Neil Gallagher, Christy Toye, Colm McFadden and Paul Durcan have already blown out the 30 candles, as has David Walsh.
The mileage on the clock is greater than any other team – and Gallagher is well aware that the end of some of Donegal’s best eras could be nigh.
“We all know that they’ve been on the road for a long time,” the Donegal manager (pictured above) said after Saturday’s eight-point loss to Mayo.
“It depends on whether or not that’s a road they feel they can go down again. We’d hope that everybody will, but only time will tell.
“We came back with a very clear intention to do our best to get back to the All-Ireland final. When you’ve had the success that we’ve had, that’s all we were interested in.”
Aidan O’Shea and Lee Keegan bagged the goals that quashed Donegal’s Sam Maguire ambitions for another.
Second before half-time, O’Shea drilled home and Keegan’s, four minutes into the second half, rammed the nail into Donegal’s coffin.
Gallagher said: “We’re very disappointed. We felt that it was going to be nip-and-tuck and that was how it was panning out, but the two goals were big game changers, especially the second one. That left us with too much to do and, to be honest, Mayo ran out comfortable winners.
“Mayo conceded a lot of kick-outs, which is not something that they normally do and they were smart tactically to understand the dynamic of the game and they left us clutching at straws.”
Gallagher outlined the pitfalls of his side’s arduous run to the last eight, in comparison with Mayo’s – Donegal had played five games to Mayo’s two before Saturday.
The Donegal boss said: “We’re a fairly experienced team and there’s no doubt that less games would be ideal.
“We’ve been managing game-to-game with some of them, but we were fresh coming into this game. Mayo are a team who are in the prime of their health with a good age profile – they have a lot going for them.”Tags: