BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN BALLYBOFEY
AFTER securing his first win as the Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher will face his home county, Fermanagh in the final McKenna Cup group game on Wednesday night in MacCumhaill Park (throw-in 8pm).
Donegal swatted aside Queen’s University on Sunday, Gallagher’s men winning 2-16 to 1-8.
Martin O’Reilly’s early goal set Donegal on their way and full-back Eamon Ward burst up to net the second in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Odhrán MacNiallais hit six points in a Man of the Match display while Christy Toye was influential throughout.
Frank McGlynn, Declan Walsh and Paddy McGrath also came in for their first appearances of the year and it coincided with a useful afternoon in a stormy and soaking Ballybofey.
Eamon McGee may come into the reckoning for Wednesday, while Gallagher has reported optimistic soundings from other experienced members of his squad.
He said: “Karl Lacey trained very well this weekend. Neil Gallagher, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden and Neil McGee have all been training well. For Wednesday, there won’t be a lot of change but we if anyone comes in then it’ll be Eamon McGee.”
Gallagher gave debuts off the bench to St Eunan’s man Sean Hensey and Bundoran’s Ciaran McCaughey, taking to nine the number of new faces Gallagherr has tested.
He said: “They’re all putting in a shift and we’re trying to give them all a bit of game time and a bit of exposure.
“It won’t be as easy to throw them into the league, but over the course of three or four months we’re hoping those lads will improve as part of the set-up and training in this sort of an environment. The more game time they get from now till the end of January the better.
“Individually and collectively we’ll look to improve.”
After an eleven-point loss to Derry, Donegal are now on a points difference of 0 after defeating James McCartan’s Queen’s by eleven.
It leaves them with a chance, albeit an outside one bearing in mind that score difference could determine the side that goes through as the best runners up, of advancing to the knockout stages.
Gallagher said: “We’re not overly bothered about qualifying from the group but if we can get a good performance then we’ll be happy with that.
“If we get through, then we get through but the more game time the better. We don’t have a lot of work done so it might be a wee bit of a shock to the system if we do get through. Competitive games are better than training though.”
When Gallagher was the Donegal coach, Donegal lost to Fermanagh in 2011 (0-12 to 0-7 in Ballybofey) and 2013 (2-15 to 2-7 in Enniskillen).
He said: “I came up against Fermanagh twice previously when I was involved with Donegal and lost both so hopefully I can break that duck.”
Meanwhile, Gallagher’s new backroom team is expected to be officially ratified by the county’s clubs at the first county committee meeting of the year tonight.