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Rory Gallagher relishing Tyrone test
By Cian O'Connell
Donegal, Tyrone, and Monaghan. Three teams, one province, budding rivalries. For much of the past decade every collision involving two of those counties drips with intrigue.
This weekend's tussle in Clones is no different. The Ulster decider involving Tyrone and Donegal last summer was tight and tense. Does Donegal boss Rory Gallagher expect a similarly edgy battle again?
It was a day where everything was hard-earned and I honestly think a lot of that was down to the zapping heat," is Gallagher's assessment.
The game was nearly like a punch bag. One team would go at the other, and then the other would come back the other way.
Sunday could be quite different. First of all, it should be a lot cooler, and it wont be as energy draining.
It could open up, or it might not. I think that the heat had a lot to do with last year, but games can open up very quickly without people realising.
Tyrone finished with a flourish landing a couple of glorious last gasp points to secure the Anglo Celt Cup.
Donegal will bring a significantly different team to St Tiernach's Park this weekend.
You can never turn the clock back," Gallagher replies when asked was it a provincial title Donegal felt they should have taken.
Ive never asked some of the younger players in our squad, but they mightnt even have been at the game. I dont know.
This is a new team. We cant rewrite the past. We had the upper hand on Tyrone for a number of years, but you just have to move on.
Whatever we are presented with this year is all we are concerned about.
A youthful and pacy outfit emerged in Donegal during the Allianz Football League, but Gallagher is eager to avoid direct comparisons with 2016.
Im not going to judge where we are at in comparison to last year," Gallagher says. "There were a lot of great players in last years team.
We have a lot of guys hungry this year with an awful lot to prove.
All I can say is that I am very content and happy with the work that we have put in, and with the attitude of everybody in our group, and with the quality of it.
We believe were going in ready and in a good frame of mind for a big challenge."
Gallagher acknowledges that Tyrone will provide a seriously tough test for his developing Donegal panel.
We are playing the Ulster champions," Gallagher states. "We are playing a team in the top three or four in the country.
At the start of the year they would have definitely being the third or fourth favourites for the All-Ireland.
We were further down the pecking order than that and it is a huge test for us. It is one we are looking forward too.
And being honest we always knew providing we looked after Antrim and Tyrone looked after Derry we knew it was going to come down the road as Im sure Tyrone did.
It is going to be a huge test to see where both teams are at.