Rory Gallagher is set to play an important role in Sunday’s All Ireland football semi-final — and it’s all because of the encouragement he received during his formative years in gaelic games at St Michael’s College, Enniskillen.
The Belleek man has been number two to Donegal manager Jim McGuinness for the past two years and has played a key part in the team’s back to back Ulster titles.
But while Gallagher shares his adopted county’s rampant ambition to land a second All-Ireland title, he admits that the advice and encouragement he received from teachers Dominic Corrigan and Peter McGinnity while a student at St Michael’s is standing him in good stead.
“I must say that Dominic and Peter have been big influences on my career in GAA, both as a player and as someone more latterly involved in management. They taught me certain ideals and helped to fashion my outlook and I certainly have cause to be grateful to them,” reveals former Fermanagh player Gallagher.
It was with the St Gall’s club in Belfast that Gallagher, playing as a creative full-forward, shared in Antrim and Ulster Championship title triumphs before the west Belfast side enjoyed its biggest achievement, winning the All Ireland Club title in 2010.
Gallagher subsequently became based in Killybegs, linking up with McGuinness following the latter’s appointment as Donegal manager in succession to John Joe Cunningham.
And the knowledge and principles which Corrigan and McGinnity passed on to him are proving “of immense benefit”, according to Gallagher.
“I played under Dom in the MacRory Cup and came to share his outlook on the game and his belief in positive thinking,” says Gallagher. “He was a great advocate of the team ethic and always made sure that we played for each other. I think it is generally agreed that the present Donegal side adheres to this principle.”
Former Fermanagh and Ulster ace McGinnity, who like Gallagher gained considerable success with a Belfast club — in his case St John’s — inculcated in the Beleek man the necessity of absolute physical fitness and the need for total concentration.
McGinnity has taken Roslea to two Fermanagh championship titles just recently, a testimony to his own coaching ability.
“Peter was a stickler for fitness and I soon came to understand why. He believes that skilful players playing at pace can be very difficult to beat if they adopt a particular strategy and I have come to appreciate this fully,” adds Gallagher.
Should Donegal win on Sunday, it would afford Gallagher the opportunity to take his place on the Croke Park touchline for the first time in a managerial capacity.
“While it was obviously a great thrill to win the All Ireland Club crown with St Gall’s as a player, it would be immensely satisfying to play some part in a Donegal capture of ‘Sam’. I feel the players have it in them to deliver the goods,” insists Gallagher.