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Gallagher's award a timely boost for All-Ireland final

By John Campbell

Donegal midfield ace Neil Gallagher is basking in what he describes as "a perfect pre-All-Ireland final boost."

The Glenswilly clubman is the latest winner of the Ulster GAA Writers' Association monthly merit award, his stunning performance in Donegal's semi-final win over Dublin having thrust him into the limelight.

Gallagher's ability to win primary possession in midfield, his willingness to help out in defence and penchant for unloading telling passes that initiated a series of attacks underlined his prowess as one of the top midfielders in the sport.

Modest and unassuming, he prefers to let his talent do the talking in the frenetic cut and thrust of championship matches but could nonetheless not disguise his pleasure at winning the award.

"I'm surprised to be getting it to be honest. While I appreciate the gesture, there were many others in the Donegal team who would have deserved it," states Gallagher.

"As far as I am concerned, it's a perfect pre-All-Ireland final boost."

Donegal's display in beating Dublin ranks as one of the outstanding achievements in Irish sport this year but Gallagher preaches caution in advance of Sunday's final against Kerry.

"Kerry are the All-Ireland kingpins and are always very difficult to beat in the final. While we are happy to be going in against them, we know this will be a huge task," says the 30-year-old engineer.

Gallagher, now in his 10th season with the Donegal senior football panel, is very much a favourite with the fans having represented the county on 121 occasions.

He is, of course, an All-Ireland medal winner from 2012, highlighting his contribution in the final against Mayo that year by scoring a late point.

And it's not only on the field of play that he is making significant progress. He has just recently teamed up with his county captain Michael Murphy as partners in Murphy's new sports shop in Letterkenny – and the business could not have opened at a better time.

To win his award, Gallagher fended off the challenge of Fermanagh's Caroline Little, who led her team into the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladie's Football final by hitting 2-6 in the semi-final against Roscommon.

Gallagher receives a specially designed and engraved Belleek Living vase, hand-made silver cufflinks from Garrett Mallon, Carlingford Design House, a sports voucher from the UGAAWA and two tickets plus overnight accommodation for the UGAAWA's 28th annual banquet at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, on Saturday, November 1.

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