Age profile is working against Donegal

There were no grand gestures afterwards. No declarations or intimations of veterans angling towards the exit or talk of how a great team had perhaps reached the end of a long and memorable road walked together.

“Listen, we’d hope that everybody would (stay on), but time will tell,” said Donegal boss Rory Gallagher (right).

Privately, he must wonder what the winter will have in store for him. It is not difficult to imagine him traipsing the roads of the county to sip tea with some of his senior players, coaxing and cajoling them about what 2016 may have in store. Ultimately, he admitted, the players themselves will make the calls. So many of them had considerable mileage to their credit even before Jim McGuinness took over.

How much of an appetite remains after Saturday remains to be seen.

“We haven’t overly thought about it coming down,” said Gallagher. “We have all been on the road a long time now, some of the boys especially. We came back with the very clear intention of getting back to an All-Ireland final and taking it from there. When you have had the success we have had in the last few years – winning one and getting to the final of another – that’s ultimately what we have been interested in.

“It just depends if it is a road people feel they can go down and that they can reach again.”

The sense of déjà vu here is clear.

Much the same talk was being littered about 24 months ago when Mayo handed them their hides at this very same stage and yet they recovered, individually and collectively, to down Dublin and come up just short against Kerry in the All-Ireland final. That extra two years may tell this time, though.

Gallagher spoke about how some of his men had carried injuries for much of the summer. That much was widely known and, with their age profile against them, it made that Ulster final loss to Monaghan doubly damaging.

“We are a fairly experienced team,” said Gallagher. “The less games would be ideal. We have been managing game to game for a wee while now with some of them, but at the same time we recovered well and we were fresh going into this match.

“It would have been ideal to go through the front door, there is no doubt about it.

“It would have given us that wee bit of breathing space to get bodies right but we didn’t put the chances away against Monaghan and that door was closed for us.”

He went on to mention that Mayo are a team that looks to have “a very good age profile” and one that brings something different to the table this summer now that Aidan O’Shea has been detailed so close to goal and with such dramatic effect.

“The dimension of Aidan at full-forward clearly makes them different. I don’t think they would have got that first goal with any of the other inside forwards they had been using the last number of years.”

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