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Gallagher won't be drawn into war of words ahead of Ulster title clash

By Declan Bogue

Published 12/07/2016

Up for the Cup: Tyrone boss Mickey Harte and Donegal counterpart Rory Gallagher have a chat while up close and personal with the Ulster crown
Up for the Cup: Tyrone boss Mickey Harte and Donegal counterpart Rory Gallagher have a chat while up close and personal with the Ulster crown

With under a week to go until the Ulster final in Clones, Donegal manager Rory Gallagher is playing politician as he attends to the pre-match media duties.

Only last Friday, Tyrone boss Mickey Harte lit a long fuse when he had his say on the frequent pitch incursions by Donegal selector Marc 'Maxi' Curran that incensed Monaghan in the Ulster semi-final.

He stated: "I fail to see the necessity to be on the pitch as much as some people do."

Asked specifically on that issue, Gallagher played it cool. He responded: "There are lots of officials there, they had no issue with us whatsoever. That's the bottom line. Maxi's tan maybe makes him stand out!"

And as for a response to Harte's comments, he just delivered a gentle shake of the head. He's not playing that game.

In the weekend just past there was another example of the gamesmanship that has been a feature of this summer's Championship when Mayo's Aidan O'Shea won a dubious penalty by performing a blatant dive in his side's eventual win over Fermanagh.

Gallagher's young goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley got caught up in something similar in the drawn semi-final against Monaghan, going down and clutching his face despite there being no contact made.

Belleek man Gallagher does not believe it is becoming a feature of the game, however. He said: "I think there have been a couple of isolated incidents.

"People have to understand that players are hugely emotional in the middle of the game when they are trying to win it.

"None of us have ever been in a situation where you can't look back and say, 'I shouldn't have done that'. Sometimes in the heat of the battle, you make the wrong choices."

He also had consolatory words for O'Shea. He added: "Aidan O'Shea has done a number of unbelievably positive things on a football field. For a split-second decision that he made that he probably regrets… it has to be moved on from."

A fair portion of the build-up to this game will inevitably centre around the sometimes stormy relationship between the two counties, but it's not something Gallagher personally believes in.

"I would disagree with that. We played each other in 2011, 2012 and 2013, all of which were massive games, and there was very little in it," he said.

"We are local rivals, we have played in a lot of National League games. Every game between us is big.

"But everybody shakes hands, and that includes players and management. It is a huge rivalry, but I don't think it is as nasty as people make it out to be."

With Donegal beating Tyrone in four of the last five Championship seasons, there is also the chance that the Red Hands might get an overdue, decisive rub of the green.

"There's always that," added Gallagher. "You play the top teams and over the last six years we have played Tyrone probably more than most.

"No doubt when you keep playing with the big boys, some day you will fall.

"But we are hoping that if we can manage to deliver the right sort of performance in Clones we will be okay."

Belfast Telegraph

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