By Frank Craig
EOGHAN ‘Ban’ Gallagher insists that Donegal will go into the 2023 season with ambitions as lofty as ever – regardless of who is at the helm come then.
Tír Chonaill are on the hunt for a new boss following Declan Bonner’s departure a fortnight ago.
Killybegs dynamo Gallaghe said that time is on the side of that entire process. And no one should care how long it takes so long as they get the best and most qualified person at the end of it all.
“It’s a waiting game now,” he said. “Donegal football will always move on. The club championship, there is real excitement now building towards that. And it’ll let the people in charge of the county manager process get on with it. And players, everyone will feel there is an opportunity there. Whenever a new manager comes in, there is always scope to catch the eye.
“Players on the panel or periphery of that, in development, will all be coming back in looking to move it on to the next level. So there is plenty to be optimistic about and, when the time comes around again, excited about.Our ambitions are always high, that doesn’t change. Next season, we’ll all get back at it for the simple reason that we believe we have a very talented group of players and we feel we can achieve big things. Donegal want to be competing at the top end of Division 1, we finished fourth last term. But we haven’t reached an All-Ireland semi-final in quite a while. So the objective for us, the players and whoever comes in to the management, is to reach that mark at the very least. That’s the aim.
“Like I said, the months will pass quickly but when it is time to regroup and look ahead to 2023, the outlook and belief will be very positive. The percentages are so small, and we’ve suffered by the slimmest of margins in recent times.
“But we know we can force that the other way. The age profile of the team, I think it’s perfect. So many of us are in those prime years, 25 and up now.”
‘Ban’ admits that he wished Bonner had got the ending he deserved. But it just wasn’t to be. However, he added that he would be eternally grateful for what his ex boss has done for him throughout his career so far.
“When Declan first came in, we were fortunate enough that a good few of us lads already knew him very well. A few of the older players had retired and Declan transitioned a good few more in to fill that void. From Under 16 right up until his time with the Under 21s, I think he promoted 10 of us, in total, to senior level.
“Declan usually touches base with us fairly quickly after the season ends. This time, he didn’t so I knew he probably had a decision to make. Still, because he’s done so much for the likes of myself you just wanted to give him the space and respect he deserved.
Declan did his absolute best for Donegal GAA and every decision he made was in the best interests of it.
“And he was doing something he loved. That’s the feeling I always took from being involved with him at every level over the years, his heart was so in it. I think I’m looking at over ten years, and that would be the same for a good few of the other lads as well.