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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 26 November 2020

'They are the premier team in the country' - Dublin challenge awaits for Donegal

Rory Gallagher on the scale of the challenge that awaits his side.

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher congratulates Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton after April's league semi-final.
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher congratulates Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton after April's league semi-final.
Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

DONEGAL DO NOT have long to bask in the glow of yesterday’s success against Cork.

Dublin require teams to shift the focus, they loom into Donegal’s view ahead of next Saturday’s quarter-final tie.

It conjures up memories of Dublin’s win in a grinding battle of 2011 and Donegal’s stunning success in 2014.

“I think that will be a huge motivation for them,” admits Donegal boss Rory Gallagher, referring to that 2014 game.

“Going into 2014 for our boys, 2011 was fresh in the memory. People have got all this theory about that game – we felt it was a game we could have won.

“But look, we’re going to have to show huge levels of hunger, just like Dublin. They made a couple of subtle changes (since 2014), no doubt about that. Protected their full-back line.

“But their overall ethos is very much attacking. One man back fair enough but they work exceptionally hard.

“I’d have great admiration for them. At the moment they are the premier team in the country.”

Gallagher dismisses any suggestions that Donegal have some psychological scars after the two losses they suffered against Dublin in the league this spring.

“Not at all. Look at the first one, we were leading the game 6-5 with 40 something minutes (gone), we felt that was the important one.

“We lost Michael (Murphy) then, I think it was a point down, we were 0-9 0-7 then with 65 or 66 minutes played.

“The second one obviously Dublin ran away with it. But we won’t lose any sleep over it. We felt that to win the All-Ireland, you have to play Dublin. Most teams would be thinking like that. That’s the reality of it.

“We played them in a league game, we played a certain style of play the second day. Obviously Dublin were very convincing winners.

Patrick McBrearty is tackled by Cian OÕSullivan Donegal's Patrick McBrearty is tackled by Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

“It’s difficult, but Dublin only have a week to prepare for Donegal. The downside for us is travelling. Boys will have to take a half-day off work on the Friday. That’s something that is unfortunate.”

Gallagher praised the character of his players in digging out a win.

“There’s tons of it in our boys. Sometimes they don’t feel they get enough awareness of that. They’ve serious pride in themselves. They dig things out.

“Very seldom that they’re beaten, that they throw in the towel. Would have been easy maybe, five points down, to do that. But they dug in. I thought they showed great character.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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