Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Swilly success eases Gallagher's county woe

Club joy: Neil Gallagher led his side to the Donegal title

Neil Gallagher may have endured only heartbreak with Donegal this year, but at club level it's a much different story.

Injury disrupted the midfield veteran's input into the county team during the summer and although he regained full fitness for the All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo, the humiliation which his county suffered on that occasion impacted deeply on the lion-hearted warrior.

But compensation was at hand. Glenswilly may subsequently have entered the Donegal championship more in hope than confidence, but with Gary McDaid back at the helm, the side slowly, almost stealthily, slipped into a winning groove.

And when they beat Killybegs in the final to clinch a second title in three years and have their passport stamped for the Ulster club championship, no one was more pleased than Gallagher.

That pleasure turned to delight when they overcame fancied St Gall's in the quarter-finals of the provincial series to set up next Sunday's semi-final showdown against Roslea in which Gallagher will go toe to toe with the Shamrocks skipper James Sherry.

It's a challenge to which the 30-year-old Gallagher, so imposing in Donegal's All-Ireland championship triumph last year, is looking forward to with considerable enthusiasm.

"Gary McDaid deserves a lot of the credit for what we have achieved," said Gallagher.

"To have won two county titles in three years is tremendous for Glenswilly. We are so pleased that this has happened but now we want to go on and show that we can live with the best of them on the Ulster stage."

Certainly in beating perennial Antrim champions St Gall's, Glenswilly showed that they are made of stern stuff.

And with Gallagher holding the conductor's baton at midfield and Michael Murphy and Gary McFadden forming a potentially lethal strike force, Glenswilly feel they have the ammunition to shoot down Peter McGinnity's side on Sunday at Brewster Park.

"We knew going in against St Gall's that they would be a very tough challenge for us and that's exactly how it turned out. They forced us to work very hard but I think we will be all the better for having come through that game," states Gallagher.

"Now we know that we have to lift our game even further if we are to get past Roslea."

Manager McDaid, while happy to accept the two county titles won under his command, is now challenging his players to prove their worth on the Ulster stage.

"Having beaten St Gall's, this has given us fresh self-belief and we now need to put in another big performance on Sunday," he added.

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