Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Ulster Championship: Rory Gallagher plotting Tyrone’s downfall

Rory Gallagher

If a certain Rory is currently dominating not just the back pages but the front pages of the global media, then another Rory will be more than happy to settle for a fleeting mention of his name after next weekend.

Rory Gallagher is hoping to see his native Fermanagh overcome London in the All-Ireland Qualifiers on Saturday and then help plot the destruction of Tyrone’s Ulster Championship title hopes in his capacity as Donegal assistant manager on Sunday.

Gallagher has made a huge impact since becoming No 2 to Jim McGuinness, bringing a wealth of knowledge, refreshing honesty and unbridled enthusiasm to his role.

Even though Donegal were comfortable winners over Cavan in the quarter-finals, Gallagher can recall his qualms when the side looked uncomfortable in the first quarter.

“Cavan were causing us a few problems but to be honest we were playing poorly, making bad decisions and trying to force the ball in long. Afterwards, though, we settled down and began to play good football,” observes Gallagher, who won an All-Ireland Club medal with St Gall’s.

Having been involved in numerous top-flight games as a player with Fermanagh, he now sees Sunday’s confrontation with Tyrone as the biggest tactical and motivational tests for the current Donegal management team.

Donegal came in for criticism for their preoccupation with defence against Antrim but against Cavan McGuinness and Gallagher adopted a more expansive stance.

But it’s certain that a safety-first policy will be very much on the agenda for Sunday.

“While we took a lot of positives from the game against Cavan we have to admit that a number of things were not so good, particularly early on,” says a thoughtful Gallagher.

“But Tyrone are the benchmark for most teams with aspirations of success. We may have beaten them in Omagh in the National League but we will be playing against an entirely different side this Sunday.”

With the red card which skipper Michael Murphy received against Cavan now rescinded and both Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and 17-year-old Patrick McBrearty pushing strongly for starting places, Gallagher is pleased that Donegal will be dealing from a full hand — a luxury which they have not enjoyed too often this year.

“Tyrone were very much under-strength when we played them in the league and they had not been back in training for too long at that stage,” insists Gallagher.

“The result of that game has no relevance in relation to this Sunday. There is no doubt that Tyrone still have fantastic players, many of them with phenomenal experience.”

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