GAA Football

Donegal could be without wing-back Gallagher for return to Division One

Donegal could be without wing-back Eogan Ban Gallagher for their return to Division One. Picture Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

DONEGAL wing-back Eoghan Ban Gallagher could miss some or all of the Tir Chonaill county’s Division One campaign as he battles to recover from the injury that ruined his 2019 season.

Four days before Donegal did battle with Kerry in a crucial Super 8 fixture at Croke Park, Killybegs flying-machine Gallagher broke his ankle in a “freak accident” at training.

Nine weeks later, Gallagher is back on his feet and patiently inching his way towards fitness. He will miss the Donegal club championship and still has some way to go before he gets back on the field.

“The club championship has just come too soon for me,” said Irish News Allstar Gallagher.

“I’m working away with our physio Cathal Ellis and he’s given me a marker to hit every week. That’s the name of the game, I just have to hit the targets but he hasn’t given me a timeframe to get back…

“I’ll be hoping be back for the League this year but then you’re not going to go out and play when you’re not fit. I’ll do what the medical team says because it’s not something you can take a chance on - if you got injured again you could end up missing the whole season.

“I’ll take it as it comes and whenever they tell me I’m fit to go I’ll push on.”

With Gallagher almost unmarkable at times, Donegal beat Fermanagh and Tyrone and defended their Anglo-Celt Cup, posting a record number of scores (1-24) in the final against Cavan. Victory in the first Super 8 game against Meath raised expectations that Donegal would go a step further than 2018 when they lost to Tyrone and failed to make the All-Ireland semi-finals but without Gallagher a draw in Kerry and defeat to Mayo ended their season.

“I got the injury the Wednesday before the Kerry game,” Gallagher explained.

“It was a freak accident in training, I got tackled and I went to push back and then I heard the crack and I just knew… That was it, simple as that. There’s nothing you can do about it.

“It was just a bad time of year for it to happen, I was looking forward to the Super 8s all year and trying to kick-on from last year. It didn’t happen for me because of the injury and as a team we didn’t kick on either, we were still knocked out in the Super 8s so it was disappointing but we just have to get up and get on with it and move on to next year.”

Donegal had suffered a similar setback in the 2018 season when Paddy McBrearty tore his cruciate in the Ulster final. Gallagher’s injury robbed the team of momentum and morale once again.

“The year before Paddy (McBrearty) got injured and that did put a dampener on things because he is such a big player for us,” Gallagher explained.

“So this year the team were, I wouldn’t say used to it, but they knew better how to deal with a player getting injured and being out for a long time.

“It’s never nice for any of your team-mates to suffer a bad injury whether they are playing or not and you never get fully used to it but I think we were better prepared to deal with it and it was no reason why we didn’t push on in the Super 8s.

“We have no excuses, we just didn’t play well enough on the day in Castlebar and Mayo thoroughly deserved to beat us and that is just the long and the short of it. It was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right for us, a lot of players just didn’t play well on the day and that happens.

“We’re a team that has been coming together for a couple of years so hopefully we can get put these things right and kick on for next year.”

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