GAA Football

Eoghan Ban Gallagher putting his white boots forward for Donegal

Derry's Sean Leo McGoldrick chases Eoghan Ban Gallagher of Donegal Picture Margaret McLaughlin 
Gerry McLaughlin

Nancy Sinatra once famously sang: “These boots were made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do”.

But in Donegal, they have a tall lean young man with white boots, who like 007 has a licence to attack and defend.

Eoghan Ban Gallagher in full flight is like an electric hare darting through defences in his white boots and like Down’s Caolan Mooney is one of the game’s great ball carriers

And the genial Killybegs man admits he gets a bit of banter from his comrades about his very bright footwear.

“A few years ago a few bucks got on to me about my boots.

“I was wearing Copia Mundials old classics at the time.

“They were getting on to me that I would not wear ‘flair’ boots so I showed up the next day with a pair of white boots for a club game and they haven’t come off since.

So it is clearly a case of these boots being made for defending but also have a licence to attack and run at the opposition when the opportunities arise.

But despite the ‘Road Runner’ stuff Eoghan Ban Gallagher insists that his first instinct is to defend and mark his man.

“I think you just have to play it as you see it,” said the young Killybegs man, whose darting runs out of defence have lifted the siege many times and also ended in scores at the other end.

“It all depends on how many men the opposition leave up and that kind of thing, or what stage the game is at, or how it's flowing.

“You just have to read it on the day. There's no set out time when you can go forward and when you can't.”

Though not a natural corner-back, Eoghan Bán has been cast in that role in all of Donegal’s league campaign. This is a move that has pitted him against some of the top corner forwards in the game.

When Donegal played Dublin in the league, Declan Bonner assigned Eoghan Bán to marking Dublin danger man Paul Mannion. And when Monaghan came to Ballyshannon, keeping tabs on Conor McManus was his billet for that game.

“I really enjoyed the challenge. Paddy McGrath was out injured there and I was asking him for tips. Karl Lacey is there and he was giving me a few pointers as well.

“It's good to go out and test yourself against the best forwards in Ireland and see where you are at really defensively.

“I found it really, really enjoyable to be put against some of the best players.

“You can't switch off for one minute. The moment you look away, they are away in behind you or away out.

“Your concentration levels are so important, because the moment you do switch off is the moment they are away.

“Rory Gallagher started the process and he played me in at corner-back for a few games in the National League last year, and that gave me a wee taste for it.

“I think Declan played me in there in every game in the National League so it is something that I have been challenged with.

“Declan challenged me to improve defensively when I came in this year.

“That's a challenge I have enjoyed and one that I have had to take on, because as a defender, ultimately the job is to defend first.”

However, he also got forward in the league and scored against KIldare, Tyrone and Mayo.

“It is not a team tactic. If the team needs me to go forward I am prepared to go forward.

“I scored a few points in the league and I think I got a bit lucky.”

With four time All-Star defender and former footballer of the year Karl Lacey in Declan Bonner’s management team Eoghan Bán hadn’t too far to go to get advice on defending.

“I have learned a lot from Karl and it is massively beneficial, obviously given his experience and his background to have as part of the management team.

“He has done a sports degree as well so he is a very intelligent person and you could see how much he has thought about the game. It is great to have someone with that much experience in Declan’s backroom team.”

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