The load of games clearly took some toll on his team, and yet Donegal manager Rory Gallagher has refused to use that as any excuse. Mayo were superior in almost every sense, thoroughly deserving of their passage to the All-Ireland semi-final – where they'll face Dublin.
“This is a fairly experienced Donegal team, so it wouldn’t have been a major factor, no,” said Gallagher, after his team slipped to an eight-point defeat – Aidan O’Shea’s goal just before half-time setting Mayo up for the 2-13 to 0-11 win.
“Ideally, you’d prefer less games, and we have been managing game to game a little, the last few weeks, with some players,” added Gallagher, whose side did have a two-week break after the Ulster final defeat to Monaghan, but were out again in Croke Park, last Saturday, where they fairly breezed past Galway.
“I certainly felt we’d recovered well since the Galway game, felt fresh coming down here. But look, Mayo are a team in the prime of their health, with a very good age profile, and have a lot going for them.
“It would have been ideal to go through the front door, no doubt about that. It would have given us the wee bit of breathing space to get a few more bodies right, but we just didn’t put our chances away against Monaghan, and that door was closed for us.”
As the game closed out, however, Mayo reinforced both their freshness and superiority: “Yeah, Mayo were still maybe that bit superior in the first half, but once the goal went in they kicked on, and the second goal then was a major game-changer.
“But as I say, we came down here thinking it was going to be nip and tuck, and that’s how it was panning out, coming up to half time. Obviously their two goals were big game changes, probably more so the second one, because it left us with too much to do, and to be honest Mayo just ran out comfortable winners after that.”
Gallagher also pointed to O'Shea's overall influence as central to Mayo's game plan: "He's a top, top player, and he'll get his moments in games, no doubt about that. It was disappointing to lose Neil Gallagher though, as that did leave us a wee bit stretched at the back
“But again, Mayo are a very good side, we knew that, have an awful lot going for them. They’ll take a lot of beating, but then Dublin will present a different challenge. I think Aidan O’Shea at full forward clearly makes them different, and I don’t think they would have got that first goal without him in that position.”