Derry a ‘wounded animal’ - Ryan

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Longford manager Glenn Ryan has urged his players not to read too much into Derry’s emphatic Ulster Championship defeat to Donegal ahead of tomorrow’s Round One All-Ireland Football Qualifying clash in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park (Throw-in 7.00pm).

Defeated by 10 points in the quarter-final clash two weeks ago, John Brennan’s side have been roundly criticised for their non-performance in Ballybofey but Ryan warned he is expecting the ‘real’ Derry to arrive in Lonford intent on rebuilding their dented pride.

“Derry have a lot to prove,” explained the Longford manager, “There’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal and that’s certainly what Derry are. They received a lot of stick over their performance against Donegal, probably unjustified because that’s not the level that they are at. They are a far better and far more competitive team than what they displayed in Ballybofey and we are very aware of that.”

Longford will have been delighted to have received home advantage for the tie despite Derry being drawn out first as in recent years Pearse Park has proved something of a graveyard for a lot of the so-called stronger counties, including Derry in 2006.

Despite that impressive home record and an unbeaten 10-game run this year, Ryan said Longford will have to work hard to claim a win.

“What you want is a home draw but then you have to guard against complacency. Just because we are at home doesn’t mean everything is going to work out our way. Teams know that they have to raise their level of performance coming to Longford. We are going to approach this game the same way as we would any other.”

Longford come into the Qualifiers on the back of a heart-breaking one point defeat against Wexford in the Leinster Championship quarter-final replay.

The pain felt after that game in Tullamore will certainly spur them on and Ryan said the players are looking forward to tomorrow’s game and what should be a large home support.

“The lads have shown over the last number of years that they are capable of putting things behind them and looking forward to the next challenge that arises. Derry are another stern test for us and our players will do the best they can to achieve the victory.

“It was wonderful down in Tullamore and the Longford support was a huge lift for the players. We will be hoping that the Longford people will again turn out in big numbers for the clash against Derry on Saturday and I know they will,” he added.