Long journeys no worry for Fermanagh star Gallagher
Rory Gallagher has enjoyed provincial club championship glory both in Ulster and Leinster.
And this evening in Parnell Park, Gallagher and his St. Galls team mates step up their pursuit of a place in the All Ireland club final on St. Patrick’s Day when they take on Corofin.
The Fermanagh man has been a huge fan of the club championship since first watching Crossmaglen Rangers begin their domination of the competition over a decade ago.
And he has been a central figure in St. Galls surge through their Antrim and Ulster campaigns
A proven predator, he again showed his worth to the side with two goals in the provincial semi final victory over Clontibret.
Four seasons ago the Antrim and Ulster champions were denied a first All Ireland when losing by a point in the decider.
Since then the man who once scored three goals and nine points in the Ulster championship against Monaghan has joined the Belfast side, making them an even more formidable and potent outfit.
Based in Killybegs he makes light of the twice a week journey to and from Belfast for training and matches.
It’s a trek that would test a lesser man, but he appears to take it all in his stride such is his focus on that elusive All Ireland club medal.
“Having been through a Leinster club championship campaign with St. Brigid’s is a big help,” he said. “And there’s a wealth of experience running through our side, men who have been in Croke Park before both with the club and county.”
Speaking of experience Sean Kelly’s return is a massive boost to
the Galls. During the 2009 championship Gallagher revelled in his role as big match analyst with BBC Radio Ulster.
But for now his whole focus is keeping his team on course for Croke Park on St.Patrick’s Day.
“I was fortunate enough to win two All Ireland competitions, one with the Fermanagh College and a Sigerson with Sligo IT,” he said.
“But you soon come to realise that not everyone will win an All Ireland.
“And yet that doesn’t prevent you from setting your sights high at the start of every new season.
“Some people are now expecting us to win an All Ireland club title, but we’ve still two games to win.
“There’s no doubt when we play well we look polished and balanced, but there are no guarantees. That’s the thing about football.
“When I won a Leinster championship with St. Brigid’s we scored something like 3-12 and looked brilliant.
“But we then went out in the All Ireland semi final and struggled to score 2-3.
“Every day you go out you have to prove yourself all over again. What you did the last day is of no consequence.”
It’s hard to argue with those sentiments and Gallagher’s well chosen words are a stark warning that Corofin can’t be taken for granted.
But the Milltown men have had a much more difficult route to the semi-final and surely that counts for something.
In the opening round they accounted for Cavan Gaels but only after extra time.
Two points separated them and Pearse Og in the quarter final, before they overwhelmed Clontibret in the semi final any 10 points.
Against Loup in the Ulster decider they were even more clinical, 11 points their winning margin that time around.
It’s that high level of performance they must replicate if they are to erase the pain of losing both the 1983 semi-final and more recently the 2006 All Ireland decider.