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Gallagher expecting a tough battle

By Declan Bogue

An Ulster final place would mean so much to so many counties, but for Donegal it has become an annual event.

Yet it would be entirely wrong to say that they take it for granted. They are just cool about the whole thing by this stage and approach their task in a very workmanlike manner. The outpouring of relief that a maligned generation experienced at the final whistle of the 2011 Ulster final has now become an efficient process.

As a player, Rory Gallagher craved days like this and God only know what might have happened if his radar-like free-taking was accommodated in Malachy O'Rourke's Fermanagh panel back in 2008. But having been in with this group for three of the last four years as selector, he wasn't about to roll around on the ground celebrating their latest passage to bigger days. Nonetheless, when pressed he deadpans earnestly: "It's exciting. Whether I'm leading the team or not, I thoroughly enjoyed the build up to the last three Ulster finals that I was involved in.

"I think it is a great testament to these boys' consistency and their pedigree that they are in their fifth in a row.

"But all that goes out the window.

"It's just about us and Monaghan in 2015 and it's going to be a hell of a battle."

We will return to that, but first to ask how Paddy McBrearty appeared to hobble his way around Clones on one leg for almost an hour.

"He got a bang on his knee," Gallagher revealed.

"He was adamant that he was okay. It took him 10 or 15 minutes to shake it off but I thought he came strong in the second half."

Quizzed that it definitely wasn't his hamstring that forced his withdrawal against Armagh, he continued: "We were tempted to take him off and the medical team said it was just a bang on the knee."

His face broke into a smile as he added about a player he is clearly fond of: "Then he seemed to think it was his boots so… He changed his boots at half-time.

"I have given up. I just say 'Yes, Patrick.'"

Had the hype machine any effect in the players this last fortnight?

"Every single day we are beatable," Gallagher maintained.

"We are only as good as how we work and every day we have to work hard.

"I think while it was far from a perfect performance you couldn't fault our work rate our effort there today."

So, onwards to Monaghan and the Ulster final.

Unsurprisingly, this group don't 'do' history or the links to the squad of 1989 to 1993.

"We are in a different era now. The boys have done an awful lot right over the last five years but that will all go out the window. It will be a hell of a battle," Gallagher maintained.

"I think it will be dogged. I think it will be tense and I think it is going to be nail-biting."

All of those things, and more.

Belfast Telegraph

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