Focus on Rory Gallagher

Focus on Rory Gallagher
He is Belleek’s very own Special One.

He is Belleek’s very own Special One.

Rory Gallagher grew up in a village that is half in Donegal so it is hardly surprising that he is now Tir Chonaill’s restless feisty general.

Had he been born a few hundred metres to the north, he would have been eligible for Donegal in the Noughties so just imagine a forward line that included Brian Roper, Michael Hegarty, Adrian Sweeney, Brendan Devenney and Rory Gallagher.

And Rory’s made a move from being a talented maverick to management as easily and naturally as he stroked an O’Neill’s over the bar in Pairc na hEirne.

The wandering star has turned into a green and gold fixture with an eternal eye on the future.

But the son of Deirdre and Gerry Gallagher from the Commons Belleek has been a bit of a general since he commanded the old schoolyard at ten years of age, complete with a trendy earring.

Soccer was an abiding passion and he played for Northern Ireland schoolboys and had a trial with Manchester United.

Real leaders never settle for second best…just think Roy Keane…Gallagher is too much of a realist to sit looking at the stars. He prefers cold stats, clear thinking and deadly execution.

There is no place for plamas in Gallagher’s world. He is a perfectionist who lives by results.

It was a tough act following the Messianic Jim McGuinness.

Some would have balked but Gallagher was always his own man and is firmly putting his own stamp on this very special group of players.

But the same Rory has played a big part in making these young men what they have become.

Jim McGuinness has rightly been given great credit for helping Donegal climb that ladder to the stars, but Gallagher played a huge role in showing them how to take those steps.

As a coach he is unrivalled but great coaches do not always make great managers.

It is much too early to assess him as a manager just yet.

But he has made a good start, and none better than the gracious tribute he paid to his former boss Jim McGuinness when he was confirmed as Donegal senior team manager last November.

Eaten bread should never be forgotten, and it wasn’t.

There is also a spiky temperament that bubbled over on occasions in the past, but the older Gallagher is calmer, considered and more controlled.

Technically he was one of the Erne County’s greatest performers and was part of a team in 2000 and 2001 that gave Donegal a few bloody noses.

Unlike some of his Erne contemporaries, Rory Gallagher has never been in awe of anyone and has always taken life as it comes.

His football brain is as fast as Peter Canavan’s (who is a neighbour of his mother Deirdre Cavanagh’s people in Ballygawley, county Tyrone) so he has an interesting pedigree.

For now he is living his young dreams.

And that is, coaching cajoling and managing a team that is not an awful lot younger than he is to the Holy Grail.

At 36 going on 37 he is living that dream that might just end with another tryst with Sam Maguire.