Derry manager Rory Gallagher says McKenna final date should be 'parked' after questioning midweek semi-finals

Derry manager Rory Gallagher believes the date of McKenna Cup final should be pushed back after questioning the scheduling of Tuesday night's semi-finals .

By Michael Wilson
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 4:48 pm
Updated Sunday, 16th January 2022, 4:50 pm

Gallagher's Oak Leafers qualified for a midweek last four trip to Ballybofey to take on Donegal courtesy of Saturday's 0-17 to 1-10 victory over Fermanagh in Shamrock Park, Roslea, but with the colleges in full swing and a McKenna final for the semi-finals winners next Saturday, Gallagher doesn't see the logic behind the quick turnaround.

"Another game is important but it's tough to play on Tuesday again," explained the Derry manager after seeing his side secure qualification as the best runner-up on three points.

"Some of these boys had college games during the week, the surface here (at Roslea), we had players cramping and things like that. It's not ideal to play on Tuesday night. If there was any sense I think it should be switched to the weekend and then park the final until later on but we'll see what happens."

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Derry manager Rory Gallagher has questioned the scheduling of Tuesday night's McKenna Cup semi-finals.

Derry's 2020 minor winning captain Matthew Downey was in superb form in Roslea on Saturday, hitting 0-07 and dictating play in a 'Man of the Match' display and Gallagher was delighted to see Downey, and a number of other young players pushing the established players for starting places.

"Matthew was excellent. He has that self assuredness and we were able to say to him during the week, 'You hit the frees today' and he kicked a wonderful point from play but it was also his use of the ball," added Gallagher, "Lachlan (Murray) also kicked a wonderful point, Enda (Downey) kicked a brilliant point too when he came on as well so I'm delighted.

"The likes of Enda has only really had one training session since coming back in, like Gareth (McKinless) and Ciaran (McFaul), and we just decided to throw them in to get them a game because there was no guarantee if we hadn't have gone through today that we would get a challenge game even next week, you just don't know."

Gallagher paid tribute to the work being done by Oak Leaf minor manager Martin Boyle and his team in preparing the young players for the rigours of the senior game.

"From our point of view, we very much trust the minor management set up, they are part of our back room in that they are helping us as well. They have been very clear on the character of the two boys (Matthew and Lachlan) and there are another three or four others that are very close to it as well but, look, just getting to know them over the past period of time, it has been excellent.

"The self assuredness, the calmness, Matthew is a really incredible player and the big thing is, these young players are turning up the heat on the other boys inside and I'm very pleased with that."