Tuesday 6 December 2016

Gallagher quick to downplay McGeeney's 'size' claims

Orla Bannon

Published 12/06/2015 | 02:30

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney questioned Donegal's 'physicality'
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney questioned Donegal's 'physicality'

Rory Gallagher has refused to take the bait over Kieran McGeeney's claim that Donegal's physicality is "not in the same ball park" as either Dublin's or Kerry's.

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McGeeney made the bold assertion last week that he could "categorically state" the 2012 All-Ireland champions do not come close to matching the last two Sam Maguire winners in the physicality department.

It was a remark perceived as a statement of intent by the Armagh manager ahead of Sunday's Ulster championship first-round tie; that his young, emerging side will not be intimidated by the physicality of their vastly experienced opponents in the tight confines of the Athletic Grounds.

Yet Donegal's manager insists he doesn't believe it was a remark deliberately designed to play mind games with Donegal ahead of the game.

"I don't believe there is any agenda with what Kieran said, I don't think he meant it that way," said Gallagher. "I don't know what the players think, but from my own point of view I certainly didn't see it as an insult.

"I know Kieran quite well and he prides himself on being honest. He says what he means.

"We aren't looking at Dublin's or Kerry's physicality at this point in time. We were only thinking about Tyrone and now Armagh. Other teams are not on our radar."

As players, Gallagher and McGeeney's paths didn't cross too often on the big stage, with Armagh operating on a higher plane than Fermanagh.

It's safe to assume, however, that they'll be going head-to-head a lot in the next few years now they're both in charge of counties who will be challenging for silverware every year.

"I can only say that Kieran is not the picture he's painted and he was involved in a successful Armagh set-up that worked exceptionally hard.

"People say they won a lot, but they would probably feel they should have won a lot more.

"He built a great squad in Kildare and now he's doing the same with Armagh. Armagh are a force now. They will be potential Ulster champions every year."

Armagh pushed Donegal all the way in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final, before late points from Michael Murphy and Paddy McBrearty saw them edge a one-point victory.

McGeeney has expressed concern that his team will have picked up "bad habits" playing in Division 3 of the league, but Gallagher notes: "There's no doubt they'd have preferred to be playing at a higher level, but we're very aware Division 3 is not a true reflection of their ability."

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