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Rory Gallagher still hopes for Leo McLoone return

Leo McLoone celebrates his goal for Donegal against Derry in last year's Ulster SFC

Leo McLoone celebrates his goal for Donegal against Derry in last year’s Ulster SFC

BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN BALLYSHANNON

RORY Gallagher won’t close the Donegal door on Leo McLoone.

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The Glenties man’s future with the county side is unclear after he made the decision during the winter to take an extended break from the panel.

While it had been rumoured that McLoone was set to go travelling, Gallagher has not ruled out a return for the Naomh Conaill player.

“There’ll be no deadline on anyone,” Gallagher said.

“We said to Leo that we’ll chat sometime in February again. He’s trying to establish his plans. Leo is a fella who would get into shape very quickly.

“We’ll be open ended in terms of the squad. The likes of Leo have had a long five years at it. The club has been successful too so we have to understand that.”

After a week that saw Rory Kavanagh confirm his retirement tempered somewhat by the announcement that Anthony Thompson will be commuting from England for the National League,  McLoone’s future appears to be the only question remaining for the new manager.

McLoone had a big impact in last year’s Championship, netting goals against Derry and Antrim in the Ulster Championship.

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His Naomh Conaill team-mate Thompson has committed to traveling back from England for games. Now based in Essex where he works as an engineer, Thompson will train in England and commute at weekends.

Gallagher said: “Anthony had said from day one that he was very interested in staying involved.

“His work has taken him over there. We had to look at the logistics of flights, but he keeps himself always in great condition.  Fitness won’t be an issue for him.”

Gallagher also paid tribute to St Eunan’s ace Kavanagh, who has ended an association with Donegal that stretches back to his 2001 debut following the confirmation of his retirement last week.

Gallagher said: “He’s a top-class player and I think he had a lot to offer. He’s one of those lucky lads in that fitness is never an issue for him.

“I spoke to Rory even before I got the job and he was saying that it would likely be his last year. He was very content with that and probably wants to focus his energy into the club scene.

“He’s had a very long career, after 14 years being involved in the squad. He had a wonderful last four years and must be very content with where he is.”

 

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