After the 2012, Donegal SFC final, with MacCumhaill Park illuminated by the floodlights, Daragh Gallagher made an walk that still makes him wince.
Naomh Conaill had just lost the final St Eunan’s, Dr Maguire prised away from them in dramatic fashion – ‘We threw it away’, he says – but Gallagher was announced as the man of the match.
As Naul McCole, the announcer that evening, called out his name, part of Gallagher – who kicked five points in an excellent display – wanted the floor to open up beneath him.
“It was strange,” he says now, as he looks forward to the unusual setting of a Senior B final with his club.
“I heard the number 12, I didn’t think it would be the Naomh Conaill number 12. It was a long walk up there to get the trophy.
“When you play in county finals, you want to always put the best foot forward. I probably played just alright in games that we’d won, but that’s just the way football goes. It’s still a nice accolade to get.”
The defeat still gnaws at them.
A late ’45 by Mark McGowan proved crucial. But it came after Naomh Conaill’s Brendan McDyre saw a sideline kick to his goalkeeper, Stephen McGrath, go out over the endline.
Gallagher says: “We lost that day. We threw it away. We didn’t take enough chances. We missed a lot and should have had it long won before that.”
Gallagher played in the Ulster club final against Crossmaglen in 2010 and is still only 29, but is on reserve duty this Sunday.
Naomh Conaill are up against Kilcar in the senior final, but Gallagher will instead lace up the boots for the curtain raiser.
For the first time, Naomh Conaill are in both finals and are looking to win a first ‘B’ title.
“It’s not really strange,” Gallagher muses.
“It’s still a final in October in Ballybofey. it’s a competition we’ve never won. I’ve enjoyed the year so far and it’ll be a big day out for the club.”
Gallagher was on the Donegal senior panel for three years, but stepped away in 2011 as he felt his contribution wasn’t helping him to make the grade.
He says: “I never broke into the team. I was there trying my best but could never break in. I’d love to have got more.”
He lives now in Grange, County Sligo, with his wife, Sandra, whom he wed earlier this year.
They were on honeymoon when Naomh Conaill were jousting with Dungloe in the opening group game, but he’s been key to Naomh Conaill reaching the decider.
He says: “It’s great to have the reserves to get back into football. The reserves is great. I started to play well again and I’ve been enjoying it. You have to look forward to it.
“Of course, I want to get back to the seniors, but I’ve really enjoyed the seniors.”
Cathal Ellis, Seamus Ellis and Stephen Molloy are among the others from the senior archives that Seamus O’Malley, the manager, can call upon for Sunday.
Gallagher says: “It’s a big chance for a lot of the young lads to get into Regan’s thoughts for next year. I’ve no doubt there are a lot of them who are definitely good enough to break into the seniors.
“We’ve plenty of senior experience and plenty of boys with minor and under-21 medals too. It’s a big chance and hopefully it’ll be a big day all round for the club.”Tags: