GAA Football

Eoghan Ban Gallagher may not feature again unless Donegal reach All-Ireland final

Eoghan Ban Gallagher, who has been one of the stars of Donegal's Championship summer, looks set to miss the crunch Super 8 clash against Tyrone with a badly bruised elbow. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

FLYING wing-back Eoghan Ban Gallagher may not play any further part for Donegal this year – unless the Tir Chonaill men make it to the All-Ireland final on September 2.

The Killybegs defender, one of the stars of this summer’s Championship, suffered a badly bruised elbow in last weekend’s victory over Roscommon and was replaced by Neil McGee just 19 minutes in.

Gallagher left Hyde Park in a sling and underwent a scan in Letterkenny on Monday.

Donegal boss Declan Bonner confirmed that the 22-year-old would miss the game against Tyrone in Ballybofey on Sunday week, and also suggested he may not be available for the All-Ireland semi-final on August 12 should they get past the Red Hands.

“He will be out for a number of weeks,” said Bonner, speaking at yesterday’s Villa Rose Hotel press call, just yards from the scene of battle on August 5.

“It’s an injury that we just have to wait and see with. Tyrone will come too quick and possibly if we got further.

“It’s disappointing, but it will open the door for someone else.”

Asked about the following week’s semi-final, should Donegal make it that far, he added: “It’s just hard to know.

“The medical team are looking after him, Kevin Moran and Cathal Ellis. Time is short and the game is coming fast.”

Donegal’s win-or-bust Super 8 clash with Tyrone has football fans across the country licking their lips, but particularly in Ulster where that particular rivalry has captured the imagination more than any other since the turn of the decade.

It is now 21 games across League and Championship since Donegal were last defeated in Ballybofey (against Down in the 2010 Ulster SFC), though the Red Hands only need a draw to book their All-Ireland semi-final spot.

Bonner featured in some huge games at Pairc Mac Cumhaill during his own playing days, and admits the rivalry between the two counties gives an already electric occasion added spice.

“There’s a huge amount at stake,” said the 1992 All-Ireland winner.

“There is a big rivalry. Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan have been the top three teams for the last decade and have had big rivalries. It’s a north-west derby and I’m sure this will be an exciting one.

“It’s an All-Ireland quarter-final, it’s right up there in terms of its importance and we’re really looking forward to it.

“It gives it an extra edge. There has been a great rivalry down the years and this will be no different. We were back into training last weekend and once the Roscommon game was finished it was all eyes on Tyrone.

“We have a semi-final at stake. There is a huge prize at stake.”

And the 1992 All-Ireland winner believes the Ulster champions must scale greater heights than at any other stage this year to topple Mickey Harte’s men.

“We will need our best performance of the season to get the win.

“Go back to Monaghan, I watched that game and Monaghan pulled away in the last 10 minutes. It was nip and tuck until that, but Monaghan were very good. Tyrone did struggle and they had a hangover from that game in Meath.

“They built momentum and they have been very impressive. They have put up huge scores against Cork and Roscommon. Last Saturday against Dublin, they played with huge confidence. They have definitely improved as the season has gone on.”

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