Derry full-back, Chrissy McKaigue, pulled no punches in his assessment of Derry demoralising Ulster Championship exit at the hands of Donegal last weekend.
Michael Wilson reports
McKaigue, who could return to Australian Rules football at the end of the current season, claimed the crushing 10-point defeat lacked the necessary pride and effort that should be associated with any Oak Leaf performance.
“Not a pile went right,” explained the Slaughtneil man. “Their system is very, very good but we missed chances in the first half and you can’t do that. We gave away a bad goal, which you can’t afford to do against them. A lot of players weren’t responsible for their men in the second half, they just ran and ran in droves at us.
“You can talk about tactics and everything else, but some of our players’ effort today wasn’t good enough and you can’t excuse that. You can make excuses about a bit of luck or not playing well but some of our boys’ effort, and I’d be the first to admit it, wasn’t there.
“If someone told you McFadden and Murphy would barely score from play and wouldn’t have a huge influence on the game, but Donegal would still rack up 2-13, then there’s something massively wrong. There was no pride in that performance, there’s no pride for our supporters. It’s not really a good day to be a Derry person in general. The players, you talk about tactics and all the rest, but the effort wasn’t there. There’s a few players who can hold their heads up, but not too many.”
McKaigue said the players now had to find a way of lifting themselves for a tough qualifier in Longford.
“You’re asking all the questions we’re asking ourselves. You don’t give up now but there’s two weeks until the next game. The qualifiers is not the route we wanted to go and it’s very down after the game. You have to go back to the drawing board and try, just try to lift ourselves. I don’t have the answers for you right now. If I did, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Meanwhile, Donegal manager Jim McGuinness pledged to continue with an increased emphasis on attack after registering 2-13 against Oak Leafers.
“We are trying to put more of an emphasis on the offensive side of our game. Last year was important for the county; it was important to bring an Ulster Championship back to the county,” McGuinness explained.
“But we failed on the scoreboard against Dublin and it is an area we want to try and improve on. We want to push forward and we also want to retain a lot of our good work from a defensive point of view.
“It really is about marrying the two. Keeping it tight at the back and keeping the scoreboard ticking over and in the second half on Saturday night you would have to say we did that and I suppose that is why we are happy with the performance.”
Reflecting on the win he said he was happy with the performance but did feel that they may have not put Derry under enough pressure in the first half?
“We were happy with the second half. We felt at half-time that we needed to get at them and we did that more in the second half. I suppose that was reflected on the scoreboard. Overall we are happy; any day you win a Championship match in Ulster is a good day.
“Obviously there will be question marks over Derry’s performance but from our point of view we are happy with a lot of aspects of our game. The goals did come at very good times for us and they did relax us but the one thing we learned from the game is that we are going to have to take the game to the opposition much earlier the next day,” he concluded.