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Derry aim for fresh start by handing Rory Gallagher the reins

New role: Derry are set to appoint former Fermanagh and Donegal boss Rory Gallagher
New role: Derry are set to appoint former Fermanagh and Donegal boss Rory Gallagher
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Rory Gallagher will be confirmed as Damian McErlain's successor in the Derry hotseat this evening.

The Oak Leaf county board will put forward Gallagher as their new senior football manager and there is expected to be no opposition to the appointment.

Gallagher has had a well-travelled playing and managerial career and this is the third Ulster county he will have managed.

He was an integral part of the management team as assistant to Jim McGuinness when Donegal won the All-Ireland in 2012, as well as Ulster titles the same year and 2011, before they parted ways at the end of the 2013 season.

Gallagher then succeeded McGuinness in 2015 and reached the Ulster final that year and in 2016, while he also introduced a number of Donegal's present key players to county football.

He left at the end of July 2017, but by September 11 made a surprise return to management when he agreed to take over his native Fermanagh, with whom he played on and off for 15 years.

In his first year in charge they won promotion from Division Three and reached an Ulster final, their first in a decade.

This year's National League campaign was going well in the early stages, and for a time it looked as if they might even go up into Division One, before defeats to Armagh and Meath in their final two games.

They then exited the Championship after narrow losses to Donegal and Monaghan.

He stepped down from his post in late July, but this move from Derry has come out of the blue.

Initially, a number of candidates were nominated by the clubs in the county, including former players Johnny McBride and Paddy Bradley on a joint ticket, the county's Under-20 manager Mickey Donnelly, and Coleraine's long-standing boss Sean McGoldrick.

However, Gallagher will have an impressive backroom team alongside him. Ciaran Meenagh, who coached the senior team last year, has been retained, much to the delight of the current players.

Former county player and beloved stylist of the game Enda Muldoon is lined up as selector and has management experience at club level with Banagher.

Gallagher met with some representatives of the county board last week and it is understood that a number of senior figures were sought out and warmly approve of the development.

Meanwhile, Monaghan have confirmed that Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney has made a return to the Oriel hotseat nine years after he stepped down.

The Monaghan county board rubber-stamped the appointment last night and sources confirmed that the strength of McEnaney's backroom team in strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly, along with former Down player Conor Laverty, swung it in his favour over fellow candidates Tony McEntee and Mattie McGleenan.

McEnaney has remained close to the scene and after leaving Monaghan had a spell in charge of Meath, with former Armagh manager Paul Grimley alongside him, before a season spent in charge of Wexford.

He has pulled off a massive coup by bringing in the renowned statistics analyst Ray Boyne. Boyne was working with the Tipperary hurlers this season as they won the All-Ireland a couple of weeks ago, and has worked with the Dublin footballers under Jim Gavin in recent years.

It has also emerged that Fermanagh ladies' football captain Joanne Doonan is set to sign for Carlton Blues Football Club in the Women's Australian Football League.

She will lead Fermanagh out when they play Louth in the All-Ireland Junior final on Sunday, September 15, but after that she will become the first Irish-born player to sign for Carlton in Melbourne.

Doonan has achieved so much so far with her club Kinawley, Queen's University and her county, and attended a CrossCoders camp in May for potential players to be drafted to the Australian Rules game.

Carlton general manager of women's football Ash Brown said Doonan has plenty of upside with her athleticism and leadership skills.

"Joanne is a terrific character and she has proven that she is committed and ready to take on the challenge of AFLW," Brown said.

"Combining her leadership with her elite athleticism, we are really excited about what Joanne will bring to our playing group.

"We are thrilled to welcome Joanne to the club and we look forward to helping her develop here at Ikon Park."

Doonan said she is really looking forward to embracing a new game when she arrives ahead of AFLW 4.0.

"I am really looking forward to the challenge of AFLW," Doonan said.

"Since the CrossCoders camp in May, I haven't been able to get a football out of my hands.

"November can't come quickly enough so I can get stuck into training with the girls."

Belfast Telegraph


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