Rory Gallagher will have tricks up his sleeve for Dubs - Barry Cahill
Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30
From almost the moment Rory Gallagher signed on with St Brigid's in Castleknock, Barry Cahill knew he was destined for management one day.
Gallagher (pictured) was never slow to come forward with an opinion and Cahill reckons he always had a coach's mindset.
"As soon as he came into our club in 2002, he nearly became player-manager at one stage - he was that vocal," Cahill said of the Donegal manager.
"In training, in the drills that we did, in the tactics, video sessions, you could see straight away that he had the mindset of a coach from his mid-20s onwards. It was no surprise that he took to management like he did."
Gallagher's Donegal come to Dublin on Saturday night - and with them comes what Cahill describes as Dublin's "first big test of the year."
It's only now, Cahill reckons, that the absence of Rory O'Carroll and Jack McCaffrey will be truly felt, while what sort of shape James McCarthy is in after his injury remains to be seen.
"On the back of the All-Ireland last year I felt no team was going to get up to Dublin's level," Cahill said. "But they are missing Rory and Jack. It has been a leveller and potentially James is missing as well so that does make it a level playing field."
Dublin's recent history with Donegal is an unusual one. The 2011 All-Ireland semi-final - which ended in a 0-8 to 0-6 victory for Dublin - will be remembered for all the wrong reasons as Donegal played with effectively one forward for most of the 70-plus minutes as a bizarre game unfolded.
Three years a later the sides met again in as Donegal produced one of their best days in Croke Park to dismantle a Dublin team tipped for back to back success.
"Those two games are nearly taken in isolation. 2011 was such a freak game and I remember going into the All-Ireland we didn't even analyse it because it was such a once-off. "2014 was Donegal playing at their absolute peak, a phenomenal performance, and Dublin got caught a bit cold.
"The offensive play they had at that time was so strong they probably did neglect their defensive duties and they have tidied that up over the last 18 months."
Dublin have already won both meetings between the sides this year in the league.
"I don't think Donegal showed their hand in either game and I have a feeling we will see something on Saturday evening that will cause Dublin a bit of bother."
"It's Dublin's first big test of the year and the fact that it is knock out isn't ideal.
"It's going to be difficult and I expect Rory Gallagher to do something different. I know Rory quite well and just thinking about it when he sat down to plan for the year I'm sure he felt they would have to play Dublin at some point to get to an All-Ireland final or win an All-Ireland. I think he will try something unusual."