Third Ulster remains the target for Gallagher

Third Ulster remains the target for Gallagher
Tom Comack @dgldemocrat

The fact that Monaghan beat Donegal by a point in last year’s Ulster final is not a factor when the two sides go toe to toe on Saturday evening in Kingspan Breffni Park. (Throw-in 7pm)

This is what Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher insisted when answering questions from the press on Monday afternoon in the Sean MacCumhaills clubroom.

Monaghan won last year’s decider 0-11 to 0-10 after Donegal shot 11 second half wides.

“It is not a factor. We can’t turn the clock back ever. You have to take it on the chin. It wasn’t nice, it wasn’t a nice feeling,” said the Donegal boss.

“Monaghan were the better team, they got over the line. They didn’t miss the chances, we did,” added Gallagher, who went on to say that Saturday’s showdown was a big game for the two counties.

“There is no doubt that it is a big game in both team’s progression. They have two wins to our one so from that point of view they have had the better of it, and you can slot a couple of league victories that they have into that as well.”

Giving an update on the injury situation, the Donegal boss reported that with the exception of goalkeeper Michael Boyle (back in training following cruciate surgery late last year) and All-Star midfielder Neil Gallagher, he expects to have everybody else in his squad when he sits down to name his team and a match day squad.

“Neil has been training away and building up over the last number of weeks. We'll look at him again this week and see how he goes.

“He's trained really well since about ten days before the Fermanagh game.

“But the reality is that Neil hasn't played a lot of football recently. He's had a back issue and an Achilles complaint. He's over them and it's about him continuing to train well now and monitoring him between now and next weekend.

“He won’t be starting whatever about coming on in the course of the game.

“Michael Boyle’s is not in contention this weekend. His intention is to play for the club next weekend. He’s back and taking a full part in training.”

However, the manager also insisted that he was very happy with Mark Anthony McGinley, who made his championship debut in goals against Fermanagh, and his understudy Peter Boyle.

“We'd be extremely happy with Mark Anthony. We've great confidence in him. He made some great saves. To be fair, they were stops we'd have expected him to make.”

The otherwise clean bill of health means that Frank McGlynn (hamstring), Martin McElhinney (back injury), and Karl Lacey (calf) are fit again.

McGlynn and McElhinney were replaced in the second half of the Fermanagh game.

“Frank got a twinge in his hamstring; Martin got a bang on his back and it just seized up. Thankfully neither injury is too severe.”

The fact that neither McGlynn or McElhinney trained since the Fermanagh game is not a major concern either, the manager insisted.

“We'd expect them both to be good to go. At this stage, in a 13-day turnaround, training isn't actually the most important thing. It's such a quick turnaround. No matter what we do in between we're not going to get any fitter or sharper.”

Former footballer of the year, Karl Lacey, was named in the starting 15 for the Fermanagh game but did not play.

“He just has a niggly wee calf injury and had it been the be all and end all that we were not to have another game we would have played him. “We expect him to be fine this week. We minded him in the week gone by but he is going to train with us this week and we will see how he reacts but we expect that the injury has fully cleared up.”

Gallagher also confirmed that team captain, Michael Murphy, was fully fit and good to go and that Darach ‘Jigger’ O’Connor had another good week’s training behind him.

On the controversial sending off of Neil McGee in the Fermanagh game, the manager was not willing to take any questions.

However, he did state in response to a query on whether or not he was planning to be without All-Star McGee.

“We’d be foolish not to be. He’s out of the game and it’s something we have to deal with.

“Since half-time in the Fermanagh game he’s been suspended. It’s no different to being without any player. You just have to move on.

“That’s the reason you have a squad. These things always happen. I remember in 2012 playing Tyrone in a huge game.

“He twinged the hamstring in the warm-up and was gone after two minutes. We’d love to have him but we move on if we don’t.”

Gallagher has made no secret of the fact that he wants to lead Donegal to another Ulster final and another Ulster crown.

And at Monday’s press briefing he once again echoed his and his team’s desire to reach one more final and win one more Ulster title.

“The confidence you get from winning Ulster is massive. It's very difficult to recover from it and make progress when you don't win it. We want to get to the Ulster final badly,” said Gallagher.