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Shoulder injury rules Neil Gallagher out of Ulster final

Donegal will be without Neil Gallagher for Sunday's final  
Gerry Maguire

BIG Neil Gallagher will play absolutely no part in Sunday’s Ulster Senior Football Championship final.

The Glenswilly man sustained a shoulder injury that means he will miss his first Ulster final in six years. The talismanic Gallagher may not have started every Ulster final, but he was there at the finish when Donegal won titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and was on losing sides in 2013 and last year.

His absence means that much more will be expected of returned veteran Rory Kavanagh, Odhran Mac Niallais and the super versatile Michael Murphy who floats between the edge of the square and centrefield.

But Gallagher’s presence and ability to win clean aerial ball will be a considerable loss to Donegal against a Tyrone team that has lost to Tir Chonaill in four Ulster Championships in five years: “We are in good shape bar Neil Gallagher who has picked up a minor shoulder injury and we have been as strong fitness-wise as we have been at any time of the year,” said boss Rory Gallagher.

“Karl Lacey is also good to go and he has come through two pretty tough ties with Monaghan which is very encouraging.”

Squad member Darach O’Connor is also fully fit, as is Frank McGlynn who picked up a minor hamstring injury against Fermanagh. Gallagher declined to respond to Mickey Harte’s weekend comments that appeared to question why Donegal mentor Maxi Curran needed to be on the pitch so much.

Watch footage from Monday night's Ulster SFC final launch in Strabane  

When asked if the fact that he had not won an Ulster title would be an extra motivating factor for him, Gallagher replied that he had already won two as a part of the Donegal management team: “Tyrone may not have beaten us, but all the games we played them in were very competitive and very tight and there was always very small margins.

“I would expect something similar on Sunday. They are on a great run and they are coming into it with a lot of form.”

In 2011, Tyrone were the ageing stars and going for their third Ulster title in-a-row, so have the roles been reversed five years on? “It is easy to say that now, but in 2011 Tyrone were still going for their third Ulster title in-a-row.

“We felt we had to play very well in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to beat them. But it has been a massive achievement for this group of players to reach six Ulster finals in-a-row. And it is also a great credit to the lads who have come in, for the effort and the dedication they have put into it.

“But that is all very much parked now and all our focus is on getting over the line on Sunday.”

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