The verdict? Pretty harmless.
Not our words, but those of Donegal manager Rory Gallagher who sounded anything but devastated after his side fell well short of a shot at Kerry and a tilt at a national title which the county hasn’t claimed since 2007.
“Definitely harmless enough, I suppose, in the greater scheme of things. It was played at a fairly pedestrian pace, even in the first half when it was fairly competitive, but the reality is the last 20 minutes were a non-event.”
He’s right there.
Donegal didn’t even see fit to change their scheduled training plan this week. Not for something so insignificant as a league semi. No sirree. Gallagher even admitted that their tactical homework had been less than complete.
That begs the question as why we bother with the charade of league semi-finals and deciders, but Donegal’s interest in anything to do with the spring competition has long been marginal. They can at least now drop any pretence and look to the championship.
They have quite the wait ahead. Nine weeks, to be exact. That’s a fair stretch to be under lock and key in training, but Gallagher didn’t exactly go all out to secure the extra game that a league final would offer, and he is undaunted by the days to be filled now.
“No, to be honest we’re delighted. I think it’s the first time in a long number of years that we’ve been the last team out in Ulster and it’s something we’ve really been looking forward to all year. We always felt if we got over the league and were able to survive in the division, then we’d look forward to that.
“We’ll have a lot of our players home so we’ll be able to train Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Yeah, there will be club league and there is a round of the club championship, but we have no problem with that. We’ll have a couple of challenge games as well and, to be honest, we think it’s a very positive thing that we have that gap this year.” With an attitude as easy-going as that, it seemed almost superfluous to ask him about the amount of turnovers his team conceded yesterday, or the success Dublin found in pushing their forwards up for Donegal kickouts and forcing long, contested balls instead.
Of more concern now will be fitness and availability issues. Martin O’Reilly left the field early with a hamstring injury, but more pressing is the question as to whether absent goalkeeper Paul Durcan will be available, given his current posting in the Middle East.
“I wish I had a euro for everybody that asked me that in the last couple of months,” said Gallagher of the player who kept goal for Ballyboden through to St Patrick’s Day. It seems the will is there from Durcan though a way has yet to be found.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved