Derry won't change attitude for Ulster champions Cavan promises Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher expects no change of attitude this weekend against Cavan despite Derry being all but assured of their place in the semi-final promotion play-off.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 8:00 am

Derry sit two points clear at the top of the Division Three north table with a huge positive scoring difference of 35 meaning it would take a remarkable sequence of results to stop the Oak Leafers lining up in the last four on June 12th/13th. The scenario couldn’t be more different for the Ulster champions, Cavan, whose fate will be decided not just by proceedings against Derry but by what happens at Brewster Park where Fermanagh host Longford.

An Erne County victory will condemn Cavan to the relegation play-offs regardless of what happens at Kingspan Breffni by virtue of Fermanagh having already defeated Cavan on the opening day but should both Cavan and Fermanagh lose, then the second spot would be decided on scoring difference between Cavan, Fermanagh and Longford.

All clear then? Well it is for Derry but Gallagher isn’t expecting any change in attitude from his players as they seek to maintain the impressive levels shown in their opening two games.

Derry manager Rory Gallagher talks to his players during the victory over Fermanagh at Owenbeg. (Photo: George Sweeney)

“There will be no change in mentality,” explained the Derry boss, “I do believe we are qualified for the semi-finals. It would take us seriously not to turn up and then for things to go very wrong everywhere for us not to qualify.

“I believe we are in the semi-final but, no, there will be no change of approach whatsoever. We have waited a long time for games and we feel we need to play games together to try to push on to a really, really consistent level and that’s how we will be approaching this game.”

Derry have a clean bill of health for what, on paper, looks the toughest of their three group games, especially given Cavan will be fighting for their spot in the last four. And barring any late injuries, qualification does not meant rotation in terms of the starting Oak Leaf starting line-up.

“I think the players that have played, all of them have played really well so it would go against a lot of the ways myself and the rest of the management team approached things in regards to consistency of selection,” added Gallagher when asked if he was tempted to rest players.

“If you are playing well and there is a good group dynamic I would tend to stick with that but naturally there are some players that you would love to get more game-time into. However, at this point in time it is extremely unlikely there will be many changes to the starting team or anything like it. I’d expect the team that took the field against Fermanagh last week to take the field again this week.”

The Derry manager says he’s expecting a tough test from the Ulster champions but stressed his focus, as it has been throughout this league campaign, remains on his own players.

“Again, we can’t really worry about Cavan. Naturally they will want to get the victory to get into the semi-finals and avoid the relegation play-off so I can imagine that is huge but I see it as another test for ourselves.

“We have come out of two fairly good displays with relatively comfortable victories so this will be another challenge for us. Can we reset our minds and go out and continue to want to improve as individuals and as part of the team which is what we are trying to do.”

If the Division Three North section is anything but clear cut, then the southern section is even more complicated going into the final round of fixtures with three teams still in with a shout of making the semi-finals and no clear advantage in the scoring stakes.

Offaly lead the way with four points after wins over Wicklow and Limerick but entertain Tipperary this weekend though Gallagher says his sole focus is on trying to top the northern table.

“There is no semblance of order about who is going to qualify from the southern side, it’s very close,” he explained, “There is nothing we can do about that so it is not our focus.

“Going into the three games series, we just wanted to qualify. Now that we are sitting top with a big scoring difference we want, and expect, to qualify in first position and wherever that takes us it takes us.

“If we can do that and have won three games, there is no reason it can’t build out confidence and self esteem going forward.

“We were in Owenbeg for a pre-match meal and we watched the first half of Offaly and Limerick and that’s all I have seen of it (the southern group). It is not really an interest for us at the minute. We will have plenty of time with the two weeks after the Cavan game until the semi-final. That is more than enough time to get accustomed to the opposition whoever it turns out to be.

“Everything for us now is about winning the semi-final. That’s the immediate goal. To bring that back even further, it’s about getting a really good performance, and, please God, beating Cavan. Then we can really hone in on the semi-final.”