Division One opposition ideal to test young players - Derry boss Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher believes tests like Wednesday night's dramatic McKenna Cup draw with Tyrone will stand to Derry when the National League begins at the end of January.

Rory Gallagher believes tests like Wednesday night's dramatic McKenna Cup draw with Tyrone will stand to Derry when the National League begins at the end of January.

Derry led for only eight minutes of the 0-10 to 0-10 draw and had to fight back from six points down early the second half. Indeed it took until the SIXTH minute of injury time before Lachlan Murray underlined his huge potential with a sublime long range equaliser and Gallagher's obvious delight was likely more to do with the character shown than the booking of a semi-final spot against Down.

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"I don’t think there are many pretty McKenna Cup games played with the weather when it is windy and wet like that," explained the Oak Leaf manager.

Tyrone’s Neil Devlin closes in on Derry’s Ben McCarron during the Dr McKenna Cup game at Owenbeg on Wednesday evening last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2302GS – 07

"From our point of view, it was a good battling performance in the second half. It had a lot of mistakes, a lot of individual errors and a lack of cohesion with the ball at times."It was getting away from us. We handed them two points very badly at the start of the second half, probably a few frees went a way that we thought they shouldn’t have as well. It was a battle, but we took over the game and we etched out a draw."The reason we wanted a third game is because it is the environment we want to see the players in. We have been very deliberate, we keep a small squad. We have done very little football training going into the new year with the idea that we got a couple of games in the McKenna Cup and if we got a third it would be a big bonus."

Gallagher said facing Division One opposition was the perfect means by which to have a look at certain players and tactics.

"You want to test Lynchy (Odhran Lynch), Niall Toner as a free-taker and this is the environment to do it," he added."Tyrone are an unbelievable county and I have great admiration for them Feargal (Logan), Brian (Dooher) and their management team. You look at Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly out there, they have an incredible attitude; Paudie Hampsey, those type of players, Conor Meyler, they are just mad to get playing and it is really admirable."To see the strength that they have and to see the test it is for us, it is good."