McGuinness still as committed as ever, says assistant boss
You can perhaps put it down as too many years spent as a player on some of the less glamorous assignments of the National League, but Donegal assistant manager Rory Gallagher is a fan of the risks in store in division one of the National League.
With Fermanagh, Gallagher first played in the league as a 16-year-old and got his fill of travelling to places like Fraher Field, Nowlan Park and Aughrim, playing in the depths of October and November when the delights of the tuck shop was more of a draw than the football.
His one season in a Cavan shirt had a league campaign disrupted through injury and by the time he returned to the green of Fermanagh for a few months in 2010, they were already spiralling out of division three and heading for the basement.
Little wonder that he prefers the cut and thrust of what is universally hailed as the strongest division one in recent memory.
“I much prefer this system. It's survival of the fittest at every level. I think I played a number of years at division 2A or 2B and there were a lot of non-event games at that level,” he said.
“This is survival of the fittest, it's the way sport should be. If you look at division three from even an Ulster point of view it's super and there's four teams from Ulster in that group.”
“The whole country is excited about division one this year. I think the combination of TG4 and Setanta, the exposure it is going to get with the Saturday night games, I think it's brilliant and from a player’s point of view it is something to get excited about.
“From our point of view, if we can get a look at our three or four players or whatever players we want to look at surviving at this level, well, they are players that are going to be useful to us when we play Tyrone.”
With Donegal manager Jim McGuinness taking up his role at Glasgow Celtic, it is widely thought that Gallagher's role and involvement with Donegal would ramp up, but not so according to the man himself.
“The dynamic is the exact same,” Gallagher said. “Celtic are very accommodating with Jim and Donegal. I suppose he has two focuses now; that's his work and this is his hobby. But Jim wouldn't have taken the Celtic job and then continued the Donegal job if he was going to be any less committed.
“It's probably a good thing in that previously Jim would have been doing consultancy work and his days wouldn't have been structured so I might have got a call at 10 o'clock and it could have lasted until 12 o'clock. Now, I know when you are going to get the phone call because you know his working day and it's helped us plan and become a bit more organised.”
Donegal even more organised? And so the standard is cranked up another notch or two.