Jim McGuinness gives verdict on former assistant Rory Gallagher's managerial style
"From a defensive point of view, I suppose Rory would have got a lot of criticism over the last couple of years."
In 2011 and 2012 Donegal took the football championship by storm. They were big, strong, fast, and fitter than what seemed humanly possible, but above all else they played like men possessed; men who were willing to give absolutely everything for the cause.
Their manager, Jim McGuinness was the spearhead of this revolution, but like all of the best managers, he had an assistant who played a vital role. Rory Gallagher was the number two at Donegal, and the pair became a passionate duo that got the best out of their players.
Both were equally as charismatic, engaging and demanding. Nobody dared let the standards slip when these two were in charge. However, in 2013 it seemed that Donegal suffered from an All-Ireland hangover as they struggled to replicate their success, and the relationship between the two became sour.
Before the 2014 campaign began, McGuinness rang Gallagher and announced they would be parting ways. He also told him that he believed he would make a better manager than an assistant coach. The former forward took him at his word, and after replacing McGuinness as Donegal head, then having a main managerial stint at Fermanagh, he is now at the helm of Derry.
"They're doing brilliantly," admitted McGuinness. "I think Rory's qualities will be that he knows every player in the country. He's got a very clear idea of every county and a good idea of the individuals within those teams.
"He's very knowledgeable. He's very passionate as well. On the training field he is a very strong voice. If you're on the training pitch with him, you will hear that and you will see that.
"I suppose then the other point of it is time. He's got time to put things in place and develop and then I suppose the last piece of the jigsaw is players. You need good players and there are good players in Derry, there has always been good players in Derry.
"There's always good players in Donegal, there's always good players in Mayo. They're big counties and counties who love their football. There's always gonna be kids that are out in the front garden that are going to be men one day that want to play for the jersey."
Despite successfully guiding his native Fermanagh to an Ulster final for the first time in years, Gallagher had to face a lot of criticism for his defensive brand of football. Many saw it to be far too one dimensional, un-entertaining and generally a negative style.
"From a defensive point of view, I suppose Rory would have got a lot of criticism over the last couple of years," said the Glenties man. "Just from the outside looking in now, they (Derry) are putting up big scores. That was our journey in 2011, going into 2012.
"That transition from getting the defensive part right, having that as a foundation block and then putting the focus on the offensive side of things, and sometimes I think that gets washed away in the criticism of the team. That was the defining factor, the capacity to be more offensively minded, to be intelligent in terms of shot selection and be ruthless.
"I think the signs are positive for Derry at the minute and if they can bring more offensive numbers to what I'd imagine will be the bedrock of the defensive stuff that he's done over the last couple of years, then they're going to ask questions.
"They've got Donegal in their sights in the first round, if Donegal can get over Down."