Derry Ulster Championship team should be picking itself says Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher wants Derry’s Championship team to pick itself after insisting he’s been planning for the Ulter championship since watching his team defeat Longford on May 15th.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 10:23 am

The Oak Leafers rounded off their league season with victory over Offaly in a one side Division Three final in Croke Park on Saturday after which Gallagher revealed planning for a July 11th date against either Down or Donegal was well underway.

“I would want to be going into the Championship with 12, 13, 14 of my team crystal clear,” explained the Derry manager, “People watching the matches should almost be able to pick the team. You don’t want to hide who the best players are.

“Everybody knows Dublin’s team. Same with the Kerry team. That’s the level most teams aspire to, Donegal, Tyrone, Monaghan have been dominating Ulster, people could pick their first 14 all the time.

Shane McGuigan goes past Peter Cunningham during Saturday's final at Croke Park. (Photo: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
Shane McGuigan goes past Peter Cunningham during Saturday's final at Croke Park. (Photo: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)

“We were thinking of the championship, to be honest after the first league game. We felt, the way we came out of the blocks, it was going to take a very unlikely series of events for us not to be promoted. We were good enough to come out the other side so our eyes have been on Down and Donegal.”

Saturday’s 0-21 to 1-06 win resembled a challenge game at time such was Derry dominance in Croke Park and Gallagher said he has nothing but admiration for how his players have gone about their business this season.

“Look, we want to play Division One and Division Two teams. It would have been five years if Derry hadn’t got back into that top 16 and that’s not somewhere I and obviously the County Board and every supporter feel they should be.

“But some of these players were here and partly involved in the drop to Division Four, so I have great admiration for the way they have stuck at it and there are some new blood in as well.

“We are a team at a right age. We haven’t too many young fellas but we haven’t too many old fellas. Christopher (McKaigue) is 31 or 32 but he looks after himself and I would be confident he would be playing when he is 38 or 39.”

“From we got going, I expected to get promotion. I expected to win all the games. I expect us to be a bit better than we are, that’s a sign of the potential of the team but we had to prove that we were good enough to get out of Division Three. I’d be very pleased with the attitude and commitment to each other.

“There were moments today when I felt we just took wrong options and, call it what you want, we were a bit selfish on the ball, which I wouldn’t be happy with. It’s not unlucky when you miss some chances, and we’ve worked on that.

“We want to be one of the top teams in Ulster and in the country, and to do that we had to get out of Division Three.”