Chrissy McKaigue welcomes Rory Gallagher appointment as new Derry manager

New Derry senior football manager, Rory Gallagher.
New Derry senior football manager, Rory Gallagher.

Slaughtneil star Chrissy McKaigue has welcomed Rory Gallagher's appointment as Derry senior football manager and called on critics to give the new man the same chance they would any other Oak Leaf boss.

Former Fermanagh and Donegal boss Gallagher arrives with a hugely impressive CV but not a universally admired style of play after accusations of overly defensive tactics and negative football from his time with the Erne County.

It's a tag McKaigue believes is unfair and despite Gallagher's ratification being taken to a vote at Tuesday night's County Board meeting, Derry's 2018 captain believes the county now needs to unite behind the new management team, on and off the field.

"All players can do is control what they can control and part of that is giving the new management team a chance to implement the style of football they want to implement," explained McKaigue.

"I would be very shocked if Derry go about playing the exact same brand of football that Fermanagh have over the last couple of years but it's also worth mentioning that whilst Fermnagh were one of the best defensive teams in the country last year, from the games I watched, they created a serious number of chances. It was, at times, their inability to take those chances that maybe brought them more criticism than they warranted.

"It was always going to happen if Rory Gallagher was appointed that the 'defensive' football tag would be mentioned but Rory has huge experience at inter-county level and I'm sure with that experience, he realises that to bring Derry on there needs a balance.

"I don't think anyone could argue that one of the areas Derry still need to work on is the defensive side of the game but with Enda Muldoon there, the attacking side of the game is catered for too. From what I've seen of the management team, there appears a nice balance."

McKaigue stressed that any perceived controversy surrounding the selection process was of no interest to the players.

"From a playing perspective, all we can do is focus on the upcoming Club Championship and trying to impress Rory Gallagher, Ciaran Meenagh and Enda Muldoon.

"All the different controversies that have come out over the last number of weeks are totally out of the player's control. We have a new team in charge and, as players, all we can do is try to impress that new management team in the club championship and - if or when the time comes - give Rory and his team our full support because they have been ratified by the County Board.

"Rory and his team deserve a chance like every other Derry management team that has gone before them."

The Slaughtneil back believes the early nature of the appointment will allow Gallagher and his new management team to prepare fully for a crucial Division Three campaign next season and could even add some extra spice to this year's club championship which starts this weekend at Senior and Intermediate level.

"It is important, not only for Rory Gallagher, but for the whole management team that, firstly, they can watch the club championships which start this weekend.

"Also, the appointment means they can start putting their preparations in place for next year because the sooner these appointments are made in the year the better because for Derry, whose Championship campaign ended in June, the preparations would need to be starting around October.

"That soon creeps up and the most important thing for Derry this year is trying to gain promotion out of Division Three. The league campaign starts relatively quickly in the New Year so it's important you have your house in order well before Christmas.

"Rory's appointment will also maybe add a bit of incentive to the club championship for a lot of players who have aspirations of playing for Derry, from junior right through to senior.

"From what I've head, Rory is very thorough in his preparation and his work. I'm sure that will be an incentive. From a playing perspective, it's good to know the management set-up that you could potentially be involved with.

"It's good to have these things out of the way early so preparations can begin as soon as possible for the new season incoming.

"That's not for now though. Right now every player's only focus is the club championship."

Gallagher's appointment brought with it the added bonus of a second year for former Tyrone player Ciaran Meenagh who made such a positive impact working under Damian McErlain last season.

"There is no secret that the impact Ciaran made last year was absolutely massive and I would safely say the entire playing group from last year will be delighted that Ciaran is back on board. He made a huge impact and has a great bond with the playing group. That's a really good move from the County Board to get Ciaran back on board. I'm sure all the players would testify to that," added McKaigue.