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Donegal boss Rory Gallagher lauds Tyrone boss Mickey Harte's appetite

By John Campbell

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher admits that he is in awe of Mickey Harte's longevity in the demanding sphere of team management.

As he makes final preparations for his team's Ulster Championship clash with the Red Hands on Sunday, Gallagher believes that his opposite number's single-mindedness and sense of purpose will serve to make his team very formidable foes.

"When I was in my last year as a minor player in 1996, Mickey was managing the Tyrone minor team and he has been involved in management since then which is a long time," points out Gallagher.

"He clearly has a huge passion for what he is doing and has belief in himself. He must be doing a lot of things right because he can relate to younger people and keep them motivated."

Gallagher pours cold water on the idea that Tyrone will travel to Ballybofey still feeling the hurt occasioned by their demotion to Division Two in the league.

"I think far too much has been made of Tyrone's drop into Division Two," asserts the 37-year-old. "I prefer to look at things in a different way. Tyrone drew with Kerry and Dublin and beat Mayo, all of whom were in the semi-finals of the All-Ireland championship last year. They got four points from them.

"That was in sharp contrast to ourselves because we only had one point to show from playing the same three opponents so that tells you what kind of side Tyrone are.

"The reality of the situation is that we have a number of players who may not be in our side in a couple of years and there is the chance that we may not make it through to the first round proper of the Ulster Championship."

In common with Armagh's Kieran McGeeney and other managers, Gallagher is convinced that the Ulster Championship is unbalanced when compared to the other provinces.

"The championship overall is unbalanced because a team from another province that is lowly-ranked can get through to the closing stages of the All-Ireland series while Ulster teams have to fight hard to make progress in what is the most competitive series," states Gallagher.

"The other side of that coin is that this makes the Ulster Championship very cherished. It is the envy of other provinces."

Gallagher is not against an open draw for the All-Ireland championship while retaining provincial competitions.

"You could have a draw, too, that was seeded instead of retaining provincial competitions. For the moment, we just want to get over Tyrone so that we will really feel part of this Ulster Championship," adds Gallagher.

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