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'It’s a privilege to be back involved,' says Rory Gallagher on Donegal ratification

Will Rory be winning matches soon?

Gallagher on the line with Jim McGuinness.
Gallagher on the line with Jim McGuinness.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT’S NOT TOO often the bookmakers are wrong and they were on the money in Donegal where Rory Gallagher was tonight ratified as Jim McMcGuinness’s successor as senior manager.

Considered the favourite since he put his hat into the ring a fortnight ago, Gallagher has taken the position on a three-year term with an offer for a fourth year. He immediately expressed his excitement at working with the Ulster champions.

“I want to enjoy and there will be ups and downs,” Gallagher said at tonight’s sitting of county committee in Ballybofey. “That’s what makes a team and I look forward to working with the people of Donegal.”

Having been McGuinness’s trusted assistant for three seasons from 2011, when Donegal won a first Ulster title in 19 years before reclaiming the title a year later on their way to only a second ever All-Ireland championship, Gallagher parted company with the scene in September 2013.

There were question-marks over the breaking up of such a successful combination but McGuinness’s Donegal reclaimed Ulster in July and reached the All-Ireland final in September, where they lost 2-6 to 0-9 against Kerry. Gallagher, speaking to the clubs of the county in Ballybofey, had nothing but praise for his panel and his predecessor.

“It’s a privilege to be back involved,” he said. “The attitude, commitment, honesty and ability of those players has to be admired. I would like to thank Jim for giving me the opportunity towards the end of 2010 to get involved.

“Not only was it was a wonderful experience, it was a special period in my life and I would like to thank Jim for the position he has left Donegal football in as the dominant team in the province.”

A native of Belleek, Co Fermanagh, Gallagher lives in Killybegs and is the current joint-manager of Kilcar with John McNulty. The former Erne Gaels clubman will announce his Donegal backroom team in due course.

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Two weeks ago, the Donegal County Board stated that all applications for the position of senior manager would be kept in-house. However, Gallagher’s nomination was publicised, as was Paddy Carr’s from Fanad Gaels, Anthony Harkin’s courtesy of Ardara and Naomh Conaill putting forward Cathal Corey.

Former Louth manager Carr, Dublin born to Fanad parents, expressed his “extreme sympathy” at being unable to partake in the interview process due to his living in Navan, Co Meath.

McGuinness has left big shoes to fill in Donegal, having won three Ulster championships as well as lifting Sam Maguire in his four years in charge.

The Glenties native is currently working as Celtic FC’s first team sports psychologist having been employed by the Glasgow club as performance director, working primarily with the youth academy, having initially taken up the role on a part-time basis in November 2012.

Tyrone will be the visitors to Ballybofey for the Ulster championship preliminary round in May with the winners facing a difficult assignment in the quarter-final against Armagh.

It was also confirmed tonight that Declan Bonner will continue to work with the Donegal minor team having taken them to a first ever All-Ireland final in September, while Maxi Curran is staying on as U21 manager after reaching the Ulster final this year.

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Alan Foley

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