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Friday 24 November 2017

Royal return was an offer I couldn't refuse - Gallagher

GRAHAM GERAGHTY isn't the only thirtysomething making a Royal return this January.

David Gallagher is back for another stint between the Meath posts, admitting he "couldn't turn it down" when the approach came from Seamus McEnaney last autumn.

Brendan Murphy's retirement has left a goalkeeping void that Gallagher has filled in the opening two rounds of the Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup, against Wexford and then Louth last Sunday.

"It's very enjoyable to be back," he confirmed. "I'd been missing a bit over the last few years, but a lot of other things were going on.

"The set-up has been great, it's very fresh and there are new lads doing a really good job. Hopefully, it's a sign of things to come for the year.

"I was sort of called back in last year as well and it was just the way things were going, I was a bit disinterested," the father-of-two admitted.

"They told me that there was a place for me this year, so I couldn't really turn it down.

"I'm 32 in March so the years are slipping away a little bit, but I still feel fresh enough."

Gallagher -- who plays full-back for his club, St Peter's, Dunboyne -- has endured a truncated Meath career over the past decade with back injuries a recurring theme. Seán Boylan plucked him back from relative obscurity to be Ireland's goalkeeper for the International Rules tour to Australia in 2008, after which he returned to the Meath squad in '09, only for injury to strike again.

"Maybe I thought it was going to slip away a little bit," he admitted, "but I do like to play outfield with my club and I have given all for my club for the last couple of years.

"Maybe I just thought I needed a fresh start at this stage. That's not to say I won't be back with my club -- I'll be going gung-ho with them for the rest of the year."

Gallagher saluted the importance of the retired Murphy -- a "goalkeeper through and through" -- who has taken on a backroom role coaching the Meath netminders. And, once the body stays strong, he is looking forward to the challenge of trying to topple Dublin.

"Fair play to Dublin, they've been around the last three or four years and it's probably taken them that long to come through," he reflected.

"You wouldn't be betting on anyone this year. It's very hard to put back-to-back All-Irelands too. Obviously, Dublin are in good shape but you just never know ... we won't be throwing in the towel just yet, anyway!"

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