GAA Football

Fermanagh boss Rory Gallagher happy to be busy ahead of Donegal game

Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher. Pic Philip Walsh
Gerry McLaughlin

WHEN you really want something done, ask a busy man or woman.

Uber-busy Fermanagh team manager Rory Gallagher says the amount of time put into county teams by managers is a “myth”.

For the versatile Belleek native is also coaching a very youthful Killybegs team to the top of Division Two in Doneagl-and they are unbeaten in six games.

And he will continue to do so right through the summer, with the crunch clash against Tir Conaill just a little over two weeks ago.

But there is very little that Gallagher does not know about Donegal, having coached them to All-Ireland glory in 2012 and taken them to two Ulster finals in 2015 and 2016 when he took the side from 2014 to 2017.

And when asked where he gets the extra hours in the day to coach Killybegs as well as manage Fermanagh, he told the Irish News:

“It dilutes the myth about the amount of time you actually put into county football.

“In all the years I was Donegal and Fermanagh it was often two nights and week and then three nights and that was pre-Christmas to get the players into conditioning.

“And of course, you are there at the weekend.

“Of course it is very challenging but you do have some down time and I just love coaching.

“But I don't be with Killybegs every night, I do a Friday night and maybe a Wednesday night.

“I got involved with Killybegs last year when Fermanagh went out and that is one good thing about the inter county championship and that is that it is shorter, so you have more time”.

So how does he combine both commitments?

“With Fermanagh it is Tuesday and Thursday training and I then nip up here to Fintra with the kids usually Friday and then we have a get together on a Saturday because of the number of players who are involved with county underage teams.

“It is enjoyable and there is a buzz and there is much less pressure than exists in county football.

“County football is very pressurised because there are less games, so every game takes on a bigger meaning but in club football in Donegal you have 18 games and three games in the championship, so you have a long time to get your way into it.

“Whereas the NFL is funny, you might not be good enough, but you could still finish in a good position”.

But there is also a more personal reason.

“My children have started to play with Killybegs and I just love the game and enjoy it.

“Seanie and Lucy were playing Aodh Ruadh today in the U-8's and they said they won but it did not look like it from where I was standing.” he quipped.

Rory's roots are firmly in Killybegs and he is happy that manager John Cunningham and himself has a good squad.

“They are a good bunch of lads and we got a great start and last Saturday night was a big win for us against Four Masters with all the players who were missing”.

Gallagher agreed that the goal gave them the cushion.

He added:

“We have a wee bit of quality up front with Ryan Cunningham, Michael Gallagher and Michael Statham in the middle of the field.

“Jack McSherry and Shaun Gorrell are also good footballers.

“There is good natural talent here”.

So what is the standard of club football in Donegal like?

“It has massively improved since I first got involved in 2010 and the athleticism out there today and the quality of the point taking from Four Masters.

“The top four teams, Gaoth Dobhair, Kilcar, Naomh Conaill and St Eunan's are a bit ahead of the rest and they are all Ulster challengers if they come out of Donegal.

“And even the standard of minor football has improved remarkably as well in the past few years”.

And then he was gone, the quick- thinking fast talking Rory whose energy and passion for the game seems to get even stronger.

One thing is certain

Irrespective how his native Fermanagh gets on, Gallagher is building another team of young men who are all much nearer to the heart of his home.

It is too soon to say how far Killybegs will go as there is a long road ahead.

But one thing is certain-they will be very well prepared as they have one of the finest coaches in the country.

And it “will never be any hardship”

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