Rory Gallagher will get a golden opportunity to thrust himself into the frame for a Fermanagh recall when he lines out for St Gall’s against Loup in Sunday’s Ulster Club Football Championship final at Pairc Esler, Newry (2.30).
For in direct opposition to the 31-year-old Gallagher will be long-serving Loup ace Johnny McBride who has joined Erne county manager Malachy O’Rourke’s backroom team as a selector.
“I suppose you could say that Johnny will be seeing me at first hand but I imagine that both of us will be concentrating on our own games in order to try and get success for our clubs,” smiles Rory.
It was Rory’s two goals complemented by three fine points that helped St Gall’s to see off the challenge of Monaghan champions Clontibret in the semi-final but the man who has adorned the Fermanagh jersey with such distinction in the past believes that Loup will pose a massive challenge.
“They have a lot of experience in their side and they seemed to have improved as they have moved along. We have plenty of good players ourselves and a several of the boys have shared in Antrim’s progress this year so they certainly won’t be fazed by this task,” states Rory.
His Fermanagh colleague, St Gal’s goalkeeper, Ronan Gallagher also has the chance to give manager O’Rourke a nudge. He has played second fiddle to Chris Breen this year but the burly St Gall’s custodian is up for Sunday’s test.
“I have a very good defence in front of me and they have been ensuring that we have not conceded many goals so far. We hope to keep a clean sheet again on Sunday if he we can,” says Ronan.
Loup manager John Brennan admits that his team will need to step up on their semi-final performance against Kilcoo if they are to win on Sunday.
“We were maybe a little fortunate to win that game. St Gall’s will be going into this match on a high and will feel that things are in their favour,” maintains Brennan.
While Johnny McBride is Loup’s talisman, further experience and skill are offered by Paul McFlynn, Joe O’Kane and Paul Young although Brennan prefers to dwell on what he views as a buoyant team ethic rather than the contributions of individuals.
Nonetheless, the fact that McBride and McFlynn in particular were twin pillars of the side when the Ulster Club title was won six years ago, ensures that they will have key roles again on Sunday.
But with Aodhan Gallagher and Sean Burke forming a dynamic partnership at midfield for St Gall’s and Sean Kelly, Colin Brady and Andrew McClean fortifying their defence, the chances of Rory Gallagher and his colleagues being plied with bountiful possession are good – and that could mean that the Ulster Club crown will come to rest in west Belfast.