By Harry Walsh
LESS than an hour after the final whistle has sounded last Saturday evening and all the media attention had already moved onto next weekend’s quarter final clash with Mayo, also at Croke Park.
Glenfin’s Frank McGlynn was the first Donegal player to emerge from the dressing rooms and within seconds he was answering questions from up to a dozen reporters.
Not surprisingly, the national hacks were quick to hone in on the last quarter final meeting between the pair (2013), a game that Mayo won with more than a little to spare.
“We had just lost an Ulster final that year and then faced a difficult game in Carrick on Shannon six days later. This year, we had thirteen days which allowed us to have a second week of training under our belts and a couple of blow-outs between games rather than just recovering for the full week.
“Now we have another week of recovery and hopefully we’ll be better primed for the Mayo test,” he said.
“Mayo are one of the top sides in the country these past three to four years and we know that it’s going to be a massive challenge, especially the scores they’re putting up. The’ve a great inside forward line and it will take all our might to keep them at bay,” he added.
The Donegal full forward line also looked impressive on Saturday evening, scoring 1-08 between them, while centre-forward Odhrán MacNiallais also chipped in with three points from play.
“We scored 1-2 early on and looked like we would open them up at will but Galway went back to more structured defence and, at times, we found it very difficult to break them down. That gave them momentum and they grew in confidence. In fairness, their forwards also posed plenty of questions for our defenders,” he said.
Going into the break on level terms, Donegal proceeded to kick a few poor wides early in the third quarter before they found their range.
“We saw the quality of the forwards we have today with the likes of Odhrán and Colm chipping in with some fantastic scores. Michael Murphy also did very well to get his hands onto a nothing ball and steady himself up before firing over a point,” he said.
At that stage of the game the Donegal captain was stationed at the edge of the square. His best position?
“Michael is very effective at the edge of the square as he is at midfield with his power and strength. It’s a balance we’re trying to find,” he said.
There were times during the Galway game, especially in the second half, when it was look a good old-fashioned game of football with man on man.
“That tends to happen, especially with placed balls and kicks outs when there’s space to be exploited. We were lucky enough to have players like Odhrán on the ball on the wing at times and they got some fantastic points.
“We came into this game on the back of a one point defeat in the Ulster final on a day when we missed eleven easy enough chances that, on most days, would go over the bar for you. We’re in a good enough state. We finished the game well with the likes of Colm, Michael and big Neil still going strong at the end. Hopefully we can continue that into next week’s game.” he said.
The wide open spaces of Croke Park allow Donegal to play a more expansive game.
“There’s a wee bit more space than the likes of MacCumhaill Park or Clones. Croke Park lends itself to putting Michael Murphy inside. It worked well today when he did go in. He sucks more defenders back around him and we were more direct. We’ll see now what next weekend brings,” he said.