Friday 19 January 2018

Gallagher insists 'we will be ready' for talented Dublin

Gallagher: Eye on Dublin Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Gallagher: Eye on Dublin Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Chris McNulty

Rory Gallagher was at the coalface of Dublin football when the seeds now blooming in the capital were only just being planted.

In 2003, Gallagher won Dublin and Leinster club championships with St Brigid's.

The year previously, Dublin won their first Leinster title in seven years and were starved of success since winning Sam Maguire in 1995.

Gallagher was a coach with St Brigid's at the time and knew Dublin's underage scene in minute detail.

Many of those protégés will be in opposition to Gallagher in Croke Park on Saturday evening when Donegal and Dublin clash in a mouth-watering All-Ireland quarter-final.

"When I was in Dublin I worked as a coach and it was a phenomenal experience. Listen, Philly McMahon, Johnny Cooper, Diarmuid Connolly, these guys were all around and were 14/15/16…" says Gallagher.

"There is this perception of their clubs that there are a lot of outsiders but to see the people that are around the work they put into it going out on Saturday mornings repeatedly in developing the players.

"Playing with St Brigid's was a great experience, winning a Dublin Championship and went on to win Leinster with them which, up to this point working with these lads, was the most enjoyable experience I have had in football. I would really admire the work that went in."

Dublin have won 11 out of the last 12 Leinster Championships and captured the All-Ireland in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Gallagher reflects: "It was hard to see it coming; firstly they had not won a Leinster in seven years and you could see the elation when they won in 2002 and got close to reaching an All-Ireland final. You could see it building with the amount of work that was going on in the club scene.

"You knew that there was an awful lot of talented players out there and you could name another 25 that were there at 15/16 who just dipped off the radar.

"I would really have admired the work that went in and the quality of players they had."

Many feel Dublin to be untested this year and this to be a 'good time' to play the defending champions.

Gallagher was quick to point out that Dublin haven't lost an All-Ireland quarter-final since 2009, but the Donegal manager is happy with his own lot.

Even if they were unconvincing at times on Saturday against Cork, Gallagher believes his team to be ready for the daunting task of the Dubs.

"We know them well so seven days is plenty," Gallagher says.

"The whole country obsesses about Dublin. When you are in Ulster you worry about Ulster first.

"You keep an eye on Dublin all year of course. I think they are a very good side. It is up to others to determine how good they are, all we are concerned with is being ready on Saturday evening.

"No doubt at the start of the year you look at everybody, you look at who the potential rivals in Ulster are going to be. You start mapping out the other big teams if you do get to Croke Park, and Dublin are definitely one of them.

"You feel if you are to win an All-Ireland you have to be ready to play Dublin, that's always in the back of your mind to be sure - you can't just land coming up the road on Saturday night and say: 'Jeez, what are we going to do about Dublin?'"

Irish Independent

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