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'Thanks and appreciation' for Gallagher but who will be the Donegal manager in 2018?

Rory Gallagher stepped down last night.

Rory Gallagher speaks to his players before throw in Rory Gallagher with his Donegal players before the recent loss to Galway. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

RORY GALLAGHER HAS been hailed for his contribution to Donegal football by the county board as they prepare to start the search for his replacement.

An official statement released today saw Donegal GAA chiefs expressed their ‘thanks and appreciation’ for Gallagher’s input as manager for the last three seasons, along with the key role he played in their success under Jim McGuinness.

Rory Gallagher and Mark McHugh celebrate Rory Gallagher and Mark McHugh celebrate Donegal's 2012 All-Ireland final victory. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The statement in full read:

“Donegal county committee would like to place on record its thanks and appreciation to Rory Gallagher for his massive contribution to the county’s footballers over the last seven years.

“Rory’s huge input into Donegal claiming three Ulster titles (’11, ’12, ’14) and the All-Ireland crown (’12) was telling and his replenishment of the panel in 2017 following a spate of retirements means that our young footballers are on a firm standing to build on their introduction to senior inter county football in the coming seasons.

“We’d also like to thank the various people who formed his backroom teams since 2015. Rory leaves Donegal in Division 1 of the Allianz Leagues.

“In the coming weeks, our attentions will turn to identifying a suitable and quality replacement to carry on the good work and structures Rory leaves in place.

“We wish Rory and his family a happy and successful future.”

Michael Murphy and Rory Gallagher Rory Gallagher and Michael Murphy after the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final victory. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The spotlight now falls on the identity of Gallagher’s replacement.

Declan Bonner, the current Ulster U21 winning manager, and Martin McHugh, who been involved most recently in steering Kilcar to last year’s county final and the IT Sligo Sigerson Cup sides, could come into the frame.

Gary McDaid and Maxi Curran are other local candidates that may come into the reckoning.

Ex-Donegal forward Brendan Devenney, speaking to Highland Radio today, believes Bonner should get a second spell at the helm of the senior side.

Brendan Devenney parades the trophy Former Donegal footballer Brendan Devenney. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“For me, the only one you could really look at is Declan Bonner. Just from the last few years, you’re thinking who’s taken on any team to any great success or managed anybody else, there’s not that many names.

“For Declan having been involved with most of these young lads for the last five or six years now. Had brilliant success with them, he’s obviously well got.

“He came straight in to county management back in 1998. Maybe he’ll admit he’s a much wiser person and manager now. He’s seen so much in football and if he has that passion for it again, I think he’d be the ideal replacement.”

Donegal manager Declan Bonner celebrates after the game Declan Bonner celebrating Donegal's Ulster U21 triumph in April. Source: Presseye/John McVitty/INPHO

Gallagher departs after steering Donegal to two recent Ulster finals but they lost out to Monaghan in 2015 and Tyrone in 2016. This season saw Donegal bow out at the hands of Tyrone at the Ulster semi-final stage before their season ended with a convincing loss to Galway at Markievicz Park.


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Fintan O'Toole

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