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Gallagher's men ready to roll with the big hits

By Declan Bogue

Published 13/06/2015

Stuck in: Rory Gallagher is expecting a physical battle
Stuck in: Rory Gallagher is expecting a physical battle

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher has not shied away from the suspicion that their Ulster quarter-final tie against Armagh tomorrow (Athletic Grounds, 2.00pm) is going to be laced with huge impacts and big hits.

While his opposite number Kieran McGeeney made an assertion that Kerry and Dublin are 'way above' Donegal in their physicality, the 2012 All-Ireland winners are a serious proposition, well able to take on any side.

This tie is also flavoured with the backdrop of last year's All-Ireland quarter-final between the sides, which featured a number of off-the-ball incidents, including Donegal doctor Kevin Moran being thrown to the ground by Armagh midfielder Aaron Findon.

"There is no doubt that it is going to be a physical game," said Gallagher. "They are big teams with big players. David Coldrick has been appointed and he is a very good referee. We have had him a number of times.

"The referee is the same for everybody, you have two teams going at it hard and obviously with the increased physicality of players sometimes it makes collisions look worse than they are. But it's part and parcel. Every referee will referee it differently. You just have to adapt to it."

Donegal have also been in the public eye since their Ulster preliminary round win over Tyrone for the level of sledging that occurred between the two teams, including an unseemly bust-up as both sides made their way off the pitch at half-time.

Gallagher has broken his silence on the issue, commenting: "I think you had two of the top teams in Ulster and in the country playing. Two Division One teams, heavyweights who have a big rivalry.

"Both teams shook hands at the end of it. The reality is that there is always some form of communication between players. All I can say is that the two teams shook hands and moved on."

The 37-year-old was also keen to address certain trains of thought that emerged after the 'Battle of Ballybofey', with Karl Lacey identified by Joe Brolly as not being the force he was, and other chinks showing in the Donegal armoury.

"I was delighted with our performance against Tyrone. There are a few areas that we want to work on but I wouldn't say we are overly concerned," McGeeney said.

"I am not any more concerned going in than I would be in any other game. We were concerned that Armagh were going to present a big challenge, as you would with any team.

"There is no doubt going to the Athletic Grounds that there is a different dynamic. It's a fairly intense atmosphere in it at the best of times, even going as a neutral."

Armagh are the second-last team to enter the race for the All-Ireland and as a result have had plenty of time since their Division Three league final win over Fermanagh.

There is a sense that the seven-week lay-off may leave the Orchard County stale, but the native of Fermanagh does not share it.

"You have to go with the cards you are dealt. When the draw was made you would have loved to have been in Armagh's position," he said. "But then again we have a game under our belts and if you win it, it gives you great confidence going forward."

Belfast Telegraph

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