BY RYAN FERRY
MONAGHAN manager Malachy O’Rourke bemoaned a poor first-half as he reflected on his side’s defeat to Donegal after the game.
O’Rourke beamed from ear-to-ear last July when he lead Monaghan to Ulster glory against Donegal, but the Fermanagh native was in a very different kind of mood in O’Donnell Park.
First-half goals from Odhran MacNiallais and Colm McFadden put Donegal into a commanding position, and O’Rourke believes it was an uphill battle from there, especially given Donegal’s tactics.
“I suppose Donegal are a team that if you let them into a lead, with the way they are set up and so on, it’s going to be very hard to peg it back. In fairness, Donegal opened the game very strong and we would have disappointed with the way we let them run through us,” said O’Rourke.
“They got the two goals early on and that gave them the cushion and I suppose we couldn’t eat in to it too much. It’s just one of those things, with the way Donegal play if you give them that lead, it’s very difficult to peg it back,” he added.
O’Rourke felt his team’s basic skills let them down, with their handling and passing letting them down in the first-half.
“We were disappointed particularly in the first half, that Donegal seemed to have that we bit more urgency than us. We had the ball and it was knocked out of our hands, and simple passes just weren’t going to the body the way we would have liked.
“Donegal were the hungrier team and the better team and we have to accept that and try to improve the next day.”
O’Rourke brought on some of his seasoned campaigners –Dick Clerkin, Dessie Mone and Vinny Corey – in the second half in an attempt to get his team going.
“It was just a case of trying to get a bit more drive into the game. We knew we were a couple of goals down. The wind was funny there as it wasn’t really benefitting either team for a lot of it, so we just wanted to try and get a foothold in the game and keep driving at them.
“We did that but we could never really close the gap and they hit us on the counter attack as they do when they have a lead.
“Overall, it’s disappointing. We came here to try and win a game, and we didn’t do that. But we will just look at the DVD and see how we can improve,” concluded the Monaghan manager.