Gallagher up for Ardara challenge

Gallagher up for Ardara challenge
Tom Comack @dgldemocrat

Seamus Gallagher is back in management. The winner of four Donegal Senior Championships, three with his native Kilcar and one with Ardara, just couldn’t stay away.

After 12 years of watching from the terraces the tug to be back patrolling the sideline and barking out the instructions proved too great.

In February, he took on the big job in Ardara and has four games behind him, two in the All- County Football League and two in the Gaeltacht, and with three wins and one defeat the early signs are promising.

“It is something I have been longing to do for years,” said the man who guided Kilcar to the last of their five championship titles in 1993 and last wore his home club manager’s bib in 2004,

“I continued to go the games and I have watched a lot of club football down the years and I was always itching to get back into management again when the time was right.

“I thought about going for the Kilcar job last year and didn’t and then I metrtin McHugh at the All-Ireland Gaeltacht here in Ardara and I encouraged him to go for the Kilcar job and he did.

“Martin, as everyone knows, was a fantastic footballer and has a great record as a manager and coach and has a great football brain and was the man I felt for Kilcar.

“He wasn’t all that sure at the time I spoke to him, but I was delighted when I heard that he had been appointed. He is the man for the job.”

Seamus played for Kilcar for the best part of three decades and won championships with the club in 1985 and 1989 and 1993. He was player manager in ‘85 and ‘93 and he was also on the 1989 Martin McHugh managed winning side.

He also played championship football with Ardara for five seasons shortly after he he moved to live in Ardara.

And he captained his adopted club to the 1981 county title, 12 months after he was on the losing Ardara team defeated by Kilcar in the 1980 final.

As for getting back into management now, Seamus says: “The Ardara job was vacant and I put my name in and there was no one else interested and I got the job. It’s as simple as that. I was appointed at the beginning of the year and we are up and running since February which was a late enough start.”

Connie Molloy, a former teammate when Seamus captained Ardara to their ‘81 success, is back from America and along with All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Molloy (Connie’s brother) and Joe McLaughlin make up the Ardara backroom team.

Former club chairman and long serving official Stephen McCahill and Joe Ryan complete the Gallagher management team.

Stephen McCahill is team liaison officer and Joe Ryan is in charge of the kit and gear.

“I have a good backroom put together and between Connie, Anthony and myself we train the team.

“We did not start training until February and are a good bit behind the rest of the teams and that was certainly the case against Termon on Saturday evening. They were a lot fitter than us.

“But we are working hard and by the time the championship comes around we will be in good shape.”

Ardara play in Division One of the All-County League and league status is something the club hold very dearly. The are the only team to have remained in the top flight since the inception of the new league structures though they have struggled to hold onto that status in the last couple of seasons.

“Realistically, were are a bottom half of the league team and there is no getting away from that when you compare us to the likes of Kilcar, Gaoth Dobhair, St Eunan’s, Naomh Conaill and Glenswilly.

“Take Kilcar as an example; they have six county men in the three McHughs, Mark, Ryan and Eoin, the two McBreartys, Patrick and Stephen and Ciaran McGinley to our one, Paddy McGrath.

“And then you add the likes of Michael Hegarty, a former county senior, who has a few good seasons of club football in him and then you have Aodhan McGinley. Andrew McClean and Conor Doherty, from this year’s county U-21 team.

“Gaoth Dobhair have a big number of county men too and Naomh Conaill and Glenswilly, they have strong squads too, so being realistic we are up against it when we play those teams and are going to have to be on top form when we meet them.”

His native Kilcar, he believes have the best squad of players in the county and with his old teammate and player manager Martin McHugh, they have the man with the know how to bring the glory days back to Towney.

“When you look at the squad of players, six county men and another five or six that have either played county underage or are still on county underage teams, they are a very talented bunch of players.

“And then you have the Martin McHugh factor and the knowledge and success as a manager and coach he brings to the job; they have to be serious contenders for honours in the next few years.

“I’m not saying that just to heap the pressure on Martin and Kilcar. I genuinely believe it and they have a good pool of young talent coming up through the underage ranks. They are definitely the coming team.

“Ardara, on the other hand, are going through a rebuilding phase and it may take a year or two before we are fit to challenge the big teams.

“We have a good group of players who are working really hard. Conor Classon is the captain and Declan Gavigan is the vice-captain. They are two very good lads and great leaders.

“Ardara have a good minor team and a good U-21 team this year but it is probably going to take a couple of years to get the blend right.”

With three wins out of their four games to date it looks if the rebuilding has already begun.