17 May 2022

Rory Gallagher says 'inexperience was the difference' between Donegal and Derry

The Derry manager has his eyes firmly fixed on his side's Division 2 opener against Down on Saturday week

Rory Gallagher says 'inexperience was the difference' between Donegal and Derry

Derry manager Rory Gallagher saw his side exit the McKenna Cup in Ballybofey

Inexperience cost Derry dearly in their Dr McKenna Cup semi-final loss to Donegal, but team Derry team boss Rory Gallagher was still reasonably happy with his fresh-faced charges. 

Donegal’s two goals were the difference between the sides, and they had a far stronger outfit on view as Gallagher pointed out following his side’s 2-9 to 0-11 loss in Ballybofey.

“I think both goals cost us and especially the first goal,” Gallagher said, with his team looking reasonably assured until that point with a 0-4 to 0-2, only for Caolan McGonagle to tip the balance of power towards Donegal. Odhran McFadden-Derry added a second goal for the hosts before half-time.

“Before that we had good control of the game and of course mistakes can happen but at the same time it should not happen,” Gallagher added. “You should not spill the ball in that part of the pitch and you should not spill the ball like we did and a similar handling error led to a point for Donegal. You can talk about turnovers, but those matters were direct in front of our goals”. 

“On the plus side we showed a lot of hard work and graft and we went seven points down but came back and finished pretty well. Donegal had a much stronger side out and had far more subs to bring on but I thought it was a really good workout for us. 

“I thought that Conor McCluskey had a great game and he did a very good job on Paddy McBrearty. I thought Lachlann Murray developed brilliantly throughout the game and Oisin McWilliams battled well for a boy that did not have a lot of training”. 

“Gareth McKinless was very good as well and we battled well against a team who came with a heavy press. And the second goal was very soft too and Lachlann in his impulsiveness to make an impression left his man and there was no real danger up to that, but he is an 18 year-old kid and I thought that he was brilliant. Inexperience cost us but there was no excuse for the two goals that we gave away. 

Gallagher has had three “tight games” in the Dr McKenna Cup but said it was “all about Down” in the opening round of Division 2.  Derry, in the McKenna Cup, shared a 0-12 apiece draw with Monaghan prior to sealing their progression to the semi-finals courtesy of a 0-17 to 1-10 scoreline in Roslea over Gallagher's native Fermanagh.

“Yes it is all about Down but we have picked up a few knocks and we did not want to risk Conor Doherty and Ciaran McFaul at the break and Emmett Bradley picked up a wee knock and I hope that he is ok,” Gallagher added. 

“The fact that this game came just three days after the Fermanagh match did influence the selection and we were wondering about even playing Gareth McKinless. We had to bring Emmett Bradley on, but this was a good character- building exercise”.

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