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Donegal must adapt to survive in new landscape - Karl Lacey

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Donegal defender Karl Lacey

Donegal defender Karl Lacey

Donegal defender Karl Lacey

Donegal defender Karl Lacey believes his side will have to adapt tactically if they are to stay at football's top table.

The former Footballer of the Year cited last year's All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry as an example of how they can struggle against teams who adopt a similarly defensive stance and hinted they could play a more open style under Rory Gallagher in 2015.

"It's not going to be the same anyway, I don't think," Lacey replied when asked about Donegal's tactical approach for 2015. "There's certain things, yes, that Rory is working on differently. I'm sure it's not going to change too much. Every team nearly seems to be going the same way.

"But I think one thing we need to learn is that teams are starting to play like us so we need to know how to play against that as well. Whereas in other years, teams weren't playing like us, so we could just play our own game.

"Now we need to be able to deal with it and play against it. You saw that happen in the final, Kerry played very similar to us and we weren't able to deal with it, so that's one lesson that we need to take out of last year and bring into this year."

The Four Masters man will complete his Masters in Sports Performance in UL tomorrow before heading back north for Saturday's Division 1 derby clash with Derry in Ballybofey.

And the 30-year-old revealed that Donegal - now without the services of Dermot Molloy, who withdrew from the panel yesterday - enjoyed a largely seamless transition to Gallagher from Jim McGuinness' management. "It's very similar," said Lacey, who is one of 12 new athlete mentors with Sky's 'Living for Sport' programme.

"Rory was there for three out of the four years with Jim. He knows what levels we need to get to in training, drills, he knows what we're good at, what we're weak at, what we need to work on.

"Very little has changed from what I've seen at the moment. There's new boys in with him like Gary McDaid so it's great to have that bit of freshness as well with the new voice and different ideas.

"It's time for us to move on now and forget about what's been going on the last four years with Jim. We want to put things right now in the league and set the tone against Derry on Saturday night and take it from there."

"There's nothing like a competitive match or a league game to tell you where you are in terms of fitness. Derry is going to provide that tough test, they had a very good league campaign last year.

"Derry always focus. Brian McIver, when he was with us, always focused on the league. So they're going to be in flying shape on Saturday night.

"It's very important for us to get the points on the board early."

Irish Independent