'Derry must be braver' - insists Rory Gallagher
Derry manager Rory Gallagher says his players must be “brave” after admitting some are not yet comfortable in their own ability at county level.
Despite the Oak Leafers showing admirable resolve to claw back a draw from a match which looked to be going away from them, Gallagher was left frustrated by a disjointed display which too often gifted Leitrim easy possession and the ability to counter attack an exposed home defence.
“It’s relief not to be beat, with being against the breeze and being two points down going into injury time. I thought we showed a lot of character but at the same time the last play summed us up,” explained the Derry manager.
“The referee gave them an opportunity and then we turned it over. We were on the attack and gave the ball away carelessly. I thought that was reflective of the way we were throughout the game. I’m sure we gave the ball away 20 times and a lot of it very carelessly.
“We dropped five or six short and had some bad wides as well. In a game that we dominated the kick-outs, it was down to the careless nature of playing the game.”
Still short a number of his more experience players, Gallagher said players are going to have to learn quickly what it takes to succeed at county level.
“I felt it took for Shane McGuigan to come on for us to show that wee bit more courage up front,” he added, “The reality is, we have a lot of players there not comfortable in their own skin at county level. A lot of them don’t have a number of appearances under their belt but that’s something we are going to have to fix very quickly.
“Leitrim exposed us. They kicked an awful lot of their scores under relatively very little pressure. They were very economical compared to us. If you give the ball away at this level, it is a high price to play and we were very reflective of it.”
Not for the first time in the recent past, Derry struggled against a blanket defence as Leitrim crowded their own ‘45’, something Gallagher says Derry have to learn to deal with.
“Leitrim set their stall out, they won the toss and played against the breeze. I don’t think we covered ourselves in glory inside with movement and we need to be braver on the ball. There was too much caution at times on the ball. It’s okay trying to give it away when you are trying to go forward. Technical errors were how we gave it away more so than bad decisions.
“I don’t like using the word patience because everybody holds the ball. You have got to me smart, you have got to read every situation. Every day Dublin come up against it and they are always able to do it, that’s the challenge we have. It is a fine line between being attacking and being careless. A lot of the time, I feel, we don’t go at them enough and end up spilling the ball because we have held on to it too long.”
Derry could have won in a frantic finale but Gallagher said two points would not have hidden a below par performance.
“We would have loved to have gone in (to Newry) with two points but our overall display, a win wouldn’t have masked that.
“We had two attacks. Carlus (McWilliams) kicked into a block with his weak foot. You ask yourself, ‘Was that the right thing to do?’ – probably not. Then you had the pass from Brendan (Rogers) to Alex (Doherty) or Danny (Tallon) on the wing. We had the chances to win it early on as well, it’s not just the last couple of minutes.
"That’s summed up the way we played, with not enough maturity, courage or quality.”