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Frustrated Gallagher is set to shuffle his Donegal pack

 

By John Campbell

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher is preparing to shake up his team for Saturday's All-Ireland qualifier against Longford at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.

By the halfway stage in his team's depressing defeat to rampant Tyrone in the Ulster Championship semi-final earlier this month, Gallagher had already used half of his allocation of substitutes and with still some time remaining before the final whistle sounded, he had exhausted his bench .

This was a clear signal of the level of frustration that former Fermanagh player Gallagher felt at his side's performance in a match which had slipped away from them as early as the opening quarter.

Experienced duo Karl Lacey and Martin McElhinney, who were drafted in, could be given starting berths this time out while Cian Mulligan, Ciaran Gillespie and Michael Langan are others who have put their hand up for selection having not started against the Red Hands.

Gallagher is justifiably wary of the challenge that Longford will offer considering that they have produced a series of shock results in the qualifiers, from an Ulster perspective at least, over the course of recent years.

Indeed, it could be said that the midland county hold a hoodoo over teams from this province in particular.

Last year, they beat Down after extra-time (2-24 to 3-17), in 2014 they got the better of Derry by 2-16 to 2-14 having beaten them in 2012 by 0-17 to 2-8, and in 2011 they sent Cavan packing by 2-16 to 0-11.

"We knew going in against Tyrone that it was going to be a big step up for our younger players and that's something that they will have to learn from," pointed out Gallagher.

"We had seven lads getting their first taste of Championship action in that match but we did not want them to accrue experience in the way that they did. However, we have knuckled down and obviously we now face a big test against Longford."

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