Donegal focused only on All-Ireland final, claims county selector Rory Gallagher

Updated: Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012 14:39 | Comments

Rory Gallagher insists that Donegal can handle the pressure
Rory Gallagher insists that Donegal can handle the pressure

Donegal selector Rory Gallagher believes that his team's players are mature enough to avoid the hype sweeping the county and focus solely on Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Final with Mayo.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Brian Carthy, the former Fermanagh star was keen to stress that the playing group are insulated from All-Ireland Final fever.

"The hype remains external to the group. All we do in January and February is train, play matches and try to win games and we are doing exactly the same thing now.

"Of course, when the guys are at work, or in their everyday lives, people are talking about the game and talking about football but we have embraced that.

"I would like to think that (the players) are mature enough to focus on what has been important all year and that is training and improving and hopefully doing enough to win the final."

The Belleek man was very complimentary about Sunday’s opponents, saying that Mayo have every reason to approach the final in confident mood.

"Mayo are going into the final in tremendous form. For the first 55 minutes against Dublin it was a superb display" - Rory Gallagher

"I’ve met a lot of Mayo people in my life. I was at college in Sligo and lived with four or five of them. I played on a winning Sigerson Cup team with seven or eight of them. Mayo people are confident by nature, and I think they are right to be confident.

"Mayo are going into the final in tremendous form. For the first 55 minutes against Dublin it was a superb display and they have every right to have confidence and look forward to it."

When questioned about being approached by Jim McGuinness to become part of the backroom team, Gallagher knew it was too good a chance to turn down.

"I thought it was a terrific opportunity to work with a very talented group of players. We know they had not been going as well as they would have hoped. I knew, without knowing the players in-depth, that there is a fair amount of talent in Donegal.

"I suppose it was a big step up for myself as I had not been involved in coaching an adult team of any description, but it was something I embraced and looked forward to. I’ve enjoyed it immensely since and long may that continue.”

Gallagher also admitted that he has always had a soft-spot for Donegal, and would have supported the county when his native Fermanagh were not going well.

"Where I’m from in Belleek in Fermanagh is a small village on the border. There is even a pub in the village that is in Donegal!

"Fermanagh went through a lean spell when I was growing up and, because we are fairly close to Ballyshannon and Bundoran, we would always have supported Donegal as youngsters. We would have been there in 1992 and were at the homecoming in Bundoran.

"There has always been a great affinity (with Donegal), although when I was playing there would also have been a great rivalry. We played each other three or four times in a row in the championship at that stage."

"I think the whole of Fermanagh will be behind Donegal on Sunday," he insisted.

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