Rory Gallagher tells us how his relationship with Jim McGuinness changed before their parting of ways

Having stepped down as Donegal manager this week, Gallagher speaks to Off The Ball

Donegal, Rory Gallagher, Jim McGuinness

Donegal selector Rory Gallagher and manager Jim McGuinness ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

On Monday, Donegal confirmed that Rory Gallagher had stepped down as senior inter-county manager.

Although the Allianz Football League had gone reasonably well in the spring, the parting of ways had followed the heavy All Ireland qualifier defeat to Galway which had capped an underwhelming campaign for the team, including being comprehensively overcome by Tyrone during the Ulster Championship.

Tonight on Off The Ball, Gallagher joined Ger and Joe to explain his decision to step away from a setup he had headed since October 2014 and previously had worked in as part of Jim McGuinness' All Ireland winning backroom team, over a span of seven years overall.

"In the Championship, we just didn't perform and the one thing I would say is there are very few young players - 20, 21 - in their first year of inter-county football hit the ground running at Championship level and we had a fair amount of inexperience in the team and a lot of them just didn't perform to the level that they're capable of," he said, adding that contributed to the defeats to Tyrone and Galway. 

While those players will shed some of that inexperience, Gallagher won't be there to benefit from the fruits of that, although he feels the peak period for the group is still a long way in the future.

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player or stream/download on iTunes:

"I still think it's going to be a long haul for Donegal. A lot of our players would only be 21, 22 or maybe 20 next year. We played a couple of 19 year old's this year," he said, before continuing, "We're going to lose another couple, I expect another couple of players to finish up shortly so it will need another bit of replenishing."

He explained that he had to weigh up the decision on his future between the football and other commitments, eventually deciding to call it a day. 

Former Donegal manager Rory Gallagher ©INPHO/James Crombie

"In amateur sport, there's only so long that your heart can rule your head. Sometimes you might just feel it's the best thing for myself to move on," he said.

Gallagher also felt the support of those around him from the county board to the players.

"They wanted me to take time on it," he said, explaining that the Donegal county board and players had all been supportive and wanted him to stay on.

Gallagher also spoke about his predecessor and former Donegal management team colleague Jim McGuinness and their relationship after parting ways in 2013.

"For the three years working with Jim, it was an unbelievable experience," he said of their period working together from 2010 to 2013. 

Jim McGuinness with assistant manager Rory Gallagher ©INPHO/Presseye/Jonathan Porter

"It's well documented that we spent hours and hours talking to each other, we spent hours travelling to games. But we never talked about a whole lot else bar football. We never inquired too much about what was going on at home. It was football, football, football that dominated 90% of our conversations."   

But he admitted, "in the final year, we spoke a lot less", adding that McGuinness was in Scotland a lot in 2013 - but that they "still spoke a hell of a lot".

Gallagher also swatted away claims of any disagreement between them in regard to which year would be McGuinness' final one in charge, adding that "if the Celtic thing hadn't happened, he'd have been like Mickey Harte or Brian Cody. That's the vision I would have always seen."  

Joe read Gallagher a passage from McGuinness' 2015 book in which the latter detailed that they didn't speak as much, increasingly disagreed on things and that McGuinness told Gallagher he wanted total control for the 2014 season, creating a "permanent" divide.

"That's not how it happened. It is what it is now," he said, although he added that there were disagreements on things like preparation and player roles.