THIS JANUARY is somewhat different to most that have gone before for a batch of Gaoth Dobhair footballers.
Late January usually means the ‘hard slogging’ for Gaoth Dobhair players on the sanddunes of Magheragallon, but this weekend the club’s Under-21s are set to face Ulster kingpins Watty Graham’s in the Ulster Under-21 Paddy McLarnon Cup semi-final.
Sean ‘Nancy’ Gallagher’s men were boosted by the confirmation that the Donegal senior team manager, Rory Gallagher, has agreed to release Micheál Carroll, Kieran Gillespie and Cian Mulligan for club duty.
Donegal are taking on Mayo in a challenge on Sunday, but the Donegal boss has given his blessing to the players going with the club.[adrotate group=”90″]
Mulligan, however, has been ruled out because of a quad injury, but the Gaoth Dobhair manager is hopeful that Gillespie will be fit, while the presence of Carroll comes to serve as a massive lift for the west Donegal men.
“It is great that there is the understanding there and that Rory has decided to release the boys,” Sean ‘Nancy’ Gallagher told Donegal Sport Hub.
“No-one wants a slagging match about young players so it’s great that he has released them. We’re delighted, obviously.
“While Cian definitely won’t play – the time is just too short – we’d be very hopeful on Kieran. He’s not far away. He hurt the hamstring in the McKenna Cup against Cavan and there’s a good possibility that he’ll be able to play.[adrotate group=”46″]
“It’s a massive boost for us. After the game last week, we were thinking that we wouldn’t have Micheál. We’d have been short around the middle of the field without him, but to find out that we have him and there’s a possibility of Kieran, too, that’s huge for us.”
Gaoth Dobhair captain Niall Friel and Conor Boyle are also winning their races for fitness as Gaoth Dobhair look to reach the decider.
“This is a massive game for the club,” Gallagher says.
“A lot of people don’t realise just how big it is for us. Historically for the club even, this is a big match. It’s the next thing to senior football.
“It’s great to be looking forward to a game like this in January. It’s usually all about the hard slogging on the dunes along the beach, but it’s totally different now. These boys are all in peak condition.
“Last week was just about getting up and running again and getting the rustines out of our system.”[adrotate group=”53″]
Gaoth Dobhair overcame the sending off of Gavin McBride late in the first half to defeat Antrim side Aghagallon 1-12 to 1-5 on Sunday at Kickhams Creggan, who host this tournament.
Galalgher says: “The character of this team was proved last Sunday when we went a man down. Gavin was playing well, he’s our free taker and was winning a lot of ball, but the boys stuck to the task and we started to punch the holes.”
Enda Gormley is manager of Watty Graham’s, who are chasing a third Ulster Under-21 crown in a row having previously claimed the Ulster Minor Tournament title in four successive years.Tags: