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Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Gallagher deserves more respect

LAST weekend’s clash with our near neighbours Derry went pretty much as I predicted, although it was a little closer than I first imagined it would be.

I knew that Rory Gallagher and this young Derry team were coming after watching them on a few occasions. With Rory’s inside knowledge of the Donegal camp, it was set up for the perfect ambush. Let’s not get away from the point that Derry should have comfortably won this match had they converted some of their goal chances, so great credit must go to Rory and his players.

Their game-plan was inch perfect but when you have Rory Gallagher involved that is always going to be the case. Rory has had his fair share of criticism over the last number of years in terms of how he set his teams up etc, but one thing about him, he sets up based on the talent that he has at his disposal.

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Rory is one of the brightest football brains on this island and I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he puts in to our game. During my time working with Rory, when he came in under Jim McGuinness, I have to say that he was like a breath of fresh air around the place.

Perhaps it’s that I am similar in my thoughts to him in that there is no room for any bullshit excuses with him and he expects you just to get on with the game and to be a quick learner. I have no problem in saying this, but without Rory Gallagher‘s influence in 2011 and 2012 Donegal would not have achieved what they did during those years and, also, the couple of years after that.

Rory’s coaching was excellent and during that time all of our players fully bought into it and it was exactly what was needed. When we look at this young Derry outfit, it’s clear to me that they have bought into Rory and this is not the last that we will hear about them.

Derry’s minors are in the All-Ireland final and when the dust settles and the players and management look back on last weekend’s performance, then this year will be viewed as one full of positives for Derry football.

From a Donegal point of view you would have to be extremely happy with the character shown by the players as they fought until the bitter end. Then Patrick McBrearty stepped up with unbelievable leadership qualities to drag his team over the line.

Yes Derry set up very well and they had their match-ups perfect, but from a Donegal point of view you would have to say that a lot of our boys under performed on the day.

When Declan Bonner and his backroom team sit down to analyse last weekend’s game I’m sure that there is a lot for them to improve on and sometimes that is a good thing heading into to such a big game.

If Donegal had swept Derry aside last week then perhaps they would be going into this week’s clash with Tyrone a little ahead of themselves, but after the fright they got I’m sure each and every one of those players will be on the toes at Brewster Park.

From a Tyrone point of view, it will be interesting to see what they come with. Having been at the league game in Omagh at the start of the season, it was hard to figure out what style or what approach they were taking this year.

Coming away from the game that day I said that I didn’t think Tyrone showed their hand and that’s what Declan Bonner must be wary of this weekend.

Since then Cathal McShane has made his return and the fact that he will be on the edge of the square poses massive issues for Donegal.

Donegal’s full-back line is the one area that you could say we have struggled with this season so Declan Bonner will be praying that rock solid full-back Neil McGee can stay fresh and injury free this week.

Both teams come into this game playing slightly under par so for me the result will all depend on which team can click into top gear.

Obviously the big issue for Donegal is around the fitness of Michael Murphy. It was obvious from Michael’s display at the weekend that he is not fully fit so, for me, if that is still the case this weekend then the only place to play him is on the edge of the square and bombard him with long ball. Michael on one leg is still a serious threat in there.

Amongst the positives for Donegal last week was the return of Odhran MacNiallais and although he is still not fully fit, I felt he contributed massively to the win having had a hand in the last two scores.

This game could really go either way. Tyrone suffered a massive loss losing Ronan McNamee while Donegal on the other hand are suffering without a fully fit Michael Murphy so it really is a level playing field.

Hopefully we are in for a cracking contest.

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