Rory Gallagher doesn’t believe that the simmering Donegal-Kerry rivalry will boil over in Letterkenny on Sunday.
The Allianz League opens for both counties with a rematch of a contest from last March that was dubbed ‘the rows of Tralee’.
Kerry’s Alan Fitzgerald and Donegal’s Leo McLoone were sent off; Denis Daly and Shane Enright of Kerry were black carded; Eddie Kinsella, the referee, flashed six yellow cards; and Neil McGee was given a retrospective one-match ban for his part in the incident that led to Fitzgerald’s dismissal.
Kerry and Donegal were both fined €5,000 by the CCCC following an ugly afternoon.
“These are two relatively young teams and a lot of the old warriors from both teams might be missing,” Gallagher said.
“We think that we have a healthy rivalry but it spilled over. Both teams did not set out for that to happen and the year previously we had a terrific game of football with them.
“I don’t think ourselves or Kerry would be too happy with how we came out of it.
“There is no doubt that it was overly physical and it is something that probably should not have happened but it did.
“There is no doubt that we were not happy with it but we have to move on from it and we have moved on from it now.”
Donegal saw eight of last year’s panel, including McLoone, either retire or step away from the squad over the winter.
Donegal began last year’s League with three wins, but didn’t win for the remainder after their loss in Tralee on a fractious day at Austin Stack Park.
Gallagher said: “The League is funny. We went into it having won three and were almost certain to be safe. Kerry went into it and they had only won one and it was a must-win game for them and that brought an edge to it from their point of view.
“There is no doubt it was a disappointing game for us to lose. We went a man up after 10-15 minutes but, fair enough, we lost a man 15 minutes later.
“We got back level but we didn’t push on. It was deflating to lose the game. We lost a few players through injury around the same time and we probably did not play as well for the remainder of the League.”
Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher remain some way off a return, while Martin McElhinney is also on Donegal’s injured list, while Kieran Gillespie is in a fitness race after injuring a hamstring playing for Gaoth Dobhair in Sunday’s Ulster U21 club semi-final against Watty Grahams.
Gallagher said: “There will be a few debutants, no doubt about that. It’ll be a very young team going out. We have a lot of experience gone, even from our last Championship game. “It’s a step into the unknown All we can go on are the signs in training and what we’ve seen. We’d be happy with what we have seen so far.”