Donegal’s Neil Gallagher happy to scrape through to Ulster final

Monaghan await in final for third year in row, with one win apiece for each county

Donegal’s Colm McFadden tries to evade Niall Holly and Oisin Duffy at Clones. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye

Donegal’s Colm McFadden tries to evade Niall Holly and Oisin Duffy at Clones. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye

 

a smile that has been hard-earned. This wasn’t champagne stuff but it was enough to see them into another Ulster final. Everything else is bunk.

“It was tight,” he says. “I didn’t enjoy it too much. It was a tight oul’ game and we were just lucky. The goal made a big difference and we’re just glad to get over it. Derry didn’t give us anything. I don’t think we scored many from frees – they were very disciplined, they didn’t foul much. It was just tight to get shots away and scores away because there wasn’t much room up front for our boys.”

Armed with secrets

“We’re familiar with them now. We’ve had two finals against them and we’ve probably been the most consistent two teams in Ulster. The first final I think there was six points in it and the second I think three maybe. They had a big win in the semi-final against Fermanagh . . . it’s going to be tight. We’ll be on their pitch too. Malachy O’Rourke will have them well-drilled.

“Monaghan have big players around the middle. Eoin Lennon is back there, Dick Clerkin, Paul Finlay, Darren Hughes, Neil McAdam. Dessie Mone flying from wing-back. They’re all experienced players. They can pull Kieran Hughes out to midfield as well, so they’ve plenty of options. We’ve three weeks now to prepare for them.”

For Brian McIver, it was a lost opportunity. For the second year in a row, his side got within a kick of a ball of Donegal but just hadn’t the artillery to bring them down. His side will move onto the qualifiers in relatively good spirits, safe in the knowledge that the draw contains no side they won’t be able to live with.

Recovered well

“We were creating the chances. The problem against Donegal is you must take the chances and too often we didn’t. You have got to give them that [kicking long-range points]. Donegal are a good side, capable of doing that. Today I thought we more than matched them but didn’t take our chances, that’s the way it goes.

“We had a couple of great turnovers and a fingernail cut out the final pass. You have to give Donegal credit for it, that’s their experience. But it’s one that got away.”

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