Rory Gallagher content with first win in charge as Donegal overcome Queen’s

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Rory Gallagher content with first win in charge as Donegal overcome Queen’s
Regardless of how long the contest will live in the memory, Rory Gallagher can be content to have got his first win as Donegal manager.

Regardless of how long the contest will live in the memory, Rory Gallagher can be content to have got his first win as Donegal manager.

With the winter training ban, Gallagher, who took over on Halloween night last, has had to plan his coordinates carefully over the last three months.

He also inherited a panel of players who would’ve been downbeat following September’s 2-9 to 0-12 All-Ireland final loss to Kerry and a little weary with the whistle-stop club championship that followed.

With the above factors taken into consideration, Gallagher used an entirely experimental team - not one of the 15 starters featured from the off in the All-Ireland final - and lost 1-16 to 0-8 against Derry last week.

Like any of his predecessors, Gallagher will not be judged on what happens or doesn’t happen in the Dr McKenna Cup.

“It was more pleasing than last week,” he said in the MacCumhaill Park clubhouse yesterday.

“The training ban doesn’t lift until December 29 and we played on January 4 so in some ways it would’ve been a minor miracle if we had been any better last week.”

But regardless of the disappointment at the way 2014 concluded, Gallagher has inherited a panel with a professional approach.

The steps the Donegal footballers have taken over the last four years is remarkable and Gallagher, of course, was a part of that as Jim McGuinness’s No 2 until 2013.

“We’ve had a few more training sessions this week,” Gallagher said. “They all started collective training in good shape after doing their gym work over the winter.

“The experienced players know how to look after themselves and look after their bodies.”

Despite the seeming unimportance of the Dr McKenna Cup, there’s always something of a feel good factor following a victory for your team - particularly if you’re the manager and that victory is your very first.

The 2-16 to 1-8 win was, like the conditions, a little spluttery. But it brought a few smiles to faces with 10 different scorers on a clingy, grey January evening.

“It’s always nice to win and we went out to win last week only it didn’t work out that way,” Gallagher added.

“We’d be relatively pleased to play well in tricky conditions and score 2-16.

“There was a good enough range of scorers and with the experienced players coming in, there was a development.

“Odhran MacNiallais is a top drawer player and he’s a breath of fresh air in the set-up and it’s very refreshing.

“His workrate is pleasing but it’s his overall quality that shine through.

“Christy Toye and Martin McElhinney gave us a good platform in the middle of the field and Frank McGlynn is easing himself into it. He was a big difference.

“Martin O’Reilly, who was inside, has been a senior panellist now for a number of years and he did well too.”

The immediate priority for Gallagher is to see if he can add any of his supporting cast to the panel of protagonists further down the road.

“They’re all putting in a shift and we’re trying to give them all a bit of game time and a bit of exposure,” he said.

“It won’t be as easy to throw them into the league but over the course of three or four months we’re hoping those lads will improve as part of the set-up.

“The more game-time they get from now till the end of January the better.”

Donegal’s championship opener is commonly their focus from early season.

This year, that altercation sees Tyrone visit Ballybofey on May 17.

In the short to medium-term, it’s Division One football again for Donegal following their promotion last term from Division Two.

Donegal welcome Derry on Saturday, January 31, with the Setanta Sports cameras looking on.