NEW Donegal coach-selector Gary McDaid has described as a ‘natural progression’ his move to join team manager Rory Gallagher’s backroom team.
While speculation had been rife he was set to join the Donegal set up for some time, it only became official on Monday.
Having led Glenswilly to two Donegal Senior Football Championship titles in three years, McDaid, a schoolteacher in St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny, said he was delighted to receive the call from the manager.
“I had been part of the County U-21 set-up with Joe McBrearty and have been around the Development Squads (U14-16) in the past. I was also manager, alongside Martin Regan, of the Donegal team who won a Buncrana Cup so, to me, this was the natural progression,” McDaid said.
All-Ireland winners in 2012 and beaten finalists this year, McDaid said that the future remains very bright for Donegal football.
“There’s plenty of quality here in Donegal and that showed in us getting to the All-Ireland final last year where we were within a hairs breath of getting a result. It’s a massive opportunity for me personally to work with a fantastic group of players and I can’t wait to get stuck in,” he said.
McDaid and Gallagher have already run the rule over a large number of players, many of whom are included in the Donegal panel ahead of next month’s opening McKenna Cup game against Derry.
“There will be a few familiar faces on show for the Derry game alongside a number of new faces. We’ll take it one game at a time but we’ll try to give as many of the new lads game time in the McKenna Cup,” he said.
Those new faces include Eamon Ward and Joe Gibbons from his home club Glenswilly together with Gary ‘Copper’ McFadden who’s back in the Donegal panel after opting out in 2013.
While both Ward and Gibbons are said to be approaching the twilight of their respective careers, McDaid said that age was just a number.
“Behind Neil McGee, Eamon (Ward) is up there with the best full-backs in the county and, at the end of the day, age is only a number.
“Joe’s in his late twenties but, to me, he’s playing the best football of his career.
“It doesn’t matter if a player is 16 or 36, as long as they’re able to perform to a given level they’ll be considered for selection”.
McDaid and Gallagher are the same age (36) and have similar styles on the sideline. Will they be able to compliment one another?
“Absolutely. We’re very much cut from the one cloth. Our coaching styles would be similar but I think we’ll be able to bounce stuff off one another and play to each other’s strengths.
“Being a teacher I like to think that every day is a school day and the day you stop learning is the day that you’re overtaken and someone else passes you out. I think that I’ve a lot to offer and I look forwards to meeting the older, more experienced members of the squad when we get together for the first time on December 29.
“We like to do most of the training ourselves. We’re hands on and I feel that it’s that bit easier to get your point across when you’re taking on the session yourself. I’m looking forward to 2015”
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.