THE LARGER GAP between the Allianz League and the start of the Ulster SFC can act as a benefit to Donegal in 2016, according to manager Rory Gallagher.
Last year, a last gasp point from Stephen Griffin earned Donegal a 1-9 to 0-12 draw in Mayo and consequently sealed a place in the Division 1 semi-finals.
Gallagher’s side then lost 4-11 to 0-19 against Cork in the last four at Croke Park, although would’ve been forgiven for having one eye on their Ulster SFC preliminary round tie against Tyrone just five weeks later.
This year though, Donegal are the last of the counties in Ulster to take to the field on June 12 with a meeting with the winners of the preliminary round clash between Antrim and Fermanagh.
“It’s great that we’re out in the Championship four weeks later than last year,” Gallagher said at the launch of Donegal’s new kit in Donegal town yesterday.
“It’s better for everyone, like the CCC in terms of fixtures, and it can be smoother for everyone.
“We have nine weeks from the end of the League to the start of the Championship and that’s a great time. We have a good bit of heavy work done so we’ll be able to enjoy the League without worrying about fitness for the Championship.”
Donegal open their Allianz League Division 1 campaign against Down on Saturday evening in Newry and Gallagher is of the opinion that Donegal’s securing of their top flight status is the immediate priority.
His team, after Newry, welcome Cork to Ballyshannon on Sunday, February 7, and then are home to Mayo in Ballybofey when the competition resumes three weeks later.
“We’ll try to survive. If we’re in a semi-final, well and good. We’ll be looking to win a minimum of three games and if we win more we’ll be delighted with that.
“The key date is June 12 and we want to be close to our best by then. The way to do that is to be competitive in Division 1 and get some good performances.
“We want to find a number of players and get the key players playing well. We found a good balance on that last year. We had Hugh McFadden, Eamonn Doherty and Martin O’Reilly getting a lot of game time in the League. That stood to them in the Championship.”
Gallagher was speaking the the launch of the new Donegal jersey, which has a new title sponsor in the form of the KN Group, whose logo is emblazoned on the front of the jersey, while MCR Group are a new tier 2 sponsor on the back.Tags: