Derry aiming to be among top teams but plenty still to do stresses Rory Gallagher
Rory Gallagher admits Derry want to be among the top teams in the country but stressed plenty of hard work still lies ahead for the rejuvenated Oak Leafers.
Gallagher saw his side make it four Division Two wins from four games against Clare in Cusack Park, Ennis on Sunday, the comfortable nine point victory indicative of a side full of confidence after a run of 11 successive National League games stretching back to 2020. Indeed the trip to previously unbeaten Clare had been billed as Derry's toughest league test yet but it was one they passed with flying colours as the introduction of fit again Gareth McKinless gave them the impetus to ease away from their hosts in a one sided second half.
The result means Derry remain top f the table but with fixtures coming up against direct promotion rivals Roscommon and Galway, Gallagher knows they cannot afford to look too far ahead.
"I suppose we feel we are pushing ahead of certain teams and we have made no bones about it, we want to be one of the top teams in the country and in order to do that you have to come to places like Ennis and win," explained the Derry manager after the 2-13 to 0-10 victory.
"We would have taken a one pint win, but to win relatively comfortably and leave a few goal chances behind us as well. . . look, I keep saying it but this is about us fulfilling our potential. It's okay winning but we want to get the most out of ourselves.
"We respected Clare but we respect ourselves as well and we came down, prepared really well and looking to deliver. These boys love playing for their county."
The Oak Leafers had 11 different scorers on the day with McKinless setting up Benny Heron for his second goal in as many weeks before helping himself to the second major to set up two mouth water fixtures against Roscommon and Galway in Derry's next two games.
"Gareth McKinless' introduction, it was his first game back, and he was unbelievable with his incisions," added the Derry manager.
"I thought we were already a good bit the better team in the first half but only one point up. At one stage were were 0-6 to 0-3 and should have been making it 0-7 to 0-3 but all of a sudden Clare got a bit of momentum. Look, you're not going to come and play a team like Clare, or any team, and dominate from start to finish. Clare are one of the top 10, 12 teams in the country for a reason.
"Clare are not out of it but it looks as if the games we have ourselves against Roscommon and Galway are going to have a massive bearing on it (promotion) but we wanted to earn the right to be there. We've done that, we've looked after our business to this point, and we have got to make this an unbelievable two weeks to get ready for Roscommon."
The return of McKinless and Ciaran McFaul who was also introduced in Ennis is another welcome boost, as is the continued recovery of Padraig Cassidy who should be fit for Roscommon game. It means Gallagher will have some nice selection headaches to deal with for a game that will be pivotal to the promotion race.
"Yeah it does, but listen I have no problem leaving anyone out of the team," he stressed, "It's a very, very simple philosophy with us. It's survival of the fittest and whoever is fit and showing me in training that they can do it, they will play.
"It is a very simple trajectory for boys but we have 25 players at a phenomenal level and that's what we are trying to achieve. First of all, we have to make sure we have enough to get us points but we are heading in the right direction but we want all the players to push on."