Derry manager Rory Gallagher dejected during the game. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
tough defeat

Gallagher: 'We were beaten by a better team, there’s no doubt about that'

The season is over for the Ulster champions.

RORY GALLAGHER HAD no complains following Derry’s All-Ireland semi-final exit to Galway and admitted the referee was correct to reinstate the Shane Walsh point that Hawk-Eye incorrectly ruled out.

The Oak Leafers led by 0-3 to no score after 12 minutes and looked in control, before Galway managed to haul themselves back into contention.    

Walsh’s score from a 45 was reinstated to Galway’s tally before the ball was thrown-in for the second period, following consultation with referee Brendan Cawley and his officials.

It gave Galway momentum starting the second period, although Gallagher felt the Tribesmen deserved the victory on the day. 

“I think we were beaten by a better team, there’s no doubt about that. I think the way the game panned out we were very good and controlled an awful lot in the first 18, 20 minute.

“We would liked to have been ahead more than we were and were disappointed to be level at half-time albeit Galway had turned the direction of the game and were starting to get the measure of us.

“But disappointed that we left chances behind us under not that much pressure but also with the amount of ball we had in the first half. 

“The referee Brendan Cawley asked were we happy enough with that and if it was a point, it was a point,” he said of Walsh’s score. “There’s no doubt. Our players thought it was over the bar. It was a score and we’re not going to try and rob them of a score.”

Reflecting on Derry’s campaign that delivered their first Ulster title since 1998, Gallagher said:

“Listen, we love what we do. We’ve loved the ups and down of it, unfortunately the two downs came against Galway.

“I did offer the boys to resign,” he quipped, “because I have a very bad record against Galway. Going back to 1998 when they hammered us in a league game and we were told they weren’t great and then they were All-Ireland champions.

“But look, it’s been an unbelievable year, it’s very disappointing we didn’t get to an All-Ireland final. We don’t look at it like where we’ve come from or anything like that, we have an awful lot of quality.

“We don’t have an awful lot of experience playing at county level at Croke Park on days like this, but there’s a lot of learning to do. If you look at the league game we learned massively, but the problem was we didn’t put the scores up when we did have control of the ball.       

“It’s no good to us today, but it’s been a phenomenal experience for them. I’ve loved every minute of it, to the way they could have wound down with 15 minutes to go when they were beaten – absolutely not.

“There’s devastation in there, we believed we were good enough to beat Galway and we believed with the way we set out to play early on we should have been in a position to win the game in the last 10 minutes.”

He hailed the impact of defenders Conor McCluskey and Chrissy McKaigue for how they held Shane Walsh and Robert Finnerty from play, while praising some of Galway’s key men.

“Conor McCluskey was excellent on Shane Walsh who’s a brilliant player.

“Chrissy done unbelievably on Finnerty but ultimately Comer came up with the scores and he was brilliant, and Shane Walsh kicked the frees. 

“You have to give phenomenal credit to Walsh. He was quiet by his standards, he’s a phenomenally talented player, but the level of free-taking he got.

“You got to give Damien Comer unbelievable credit as well, Brendan Rogers threw the gauntlet down to him early on but in an intense game like that the two of theirs contribution was unbelievable.”

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