McKaigue ruled out as Gallagher confirms defender won't feature for Derry in 2022
Derry manager Rory Gallagher has revealed Karl McKaigue won't feature for the Oak Leafers this year due to an ongoing hip problem.
The dual star had hoped to join up with the Derry panel after playing a key role in Slaughtneil's run to the All Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship semi-final in which they lost out to Ballygunner. However, after registering a third win of their league campaign against Cork in Owenbeg on Sunday, the Oak Leaf manager revealed McKaigue was to see a surgeon and is not likely to feature during the 2022 county season.
"It's unfortunate and some sad news," explained Gallagher, "Karl had a scan on his hip which he carried for a long time and he has to go and see a surgeon. Karl at this point is unfortunately not fit to train at the level.
"He is a player that I want to say I really appreciate for all his efforts. When we got the job we very much wanted to work with him and he has just been very unlucky with injuries. That's an unfortunate aspect of the amount of training and games he's played but, please god, maybe some time next year we will have the option of getting him back."
Despite the loss of McKaigue, Derry's defence has proved the meanest in the country having conceded the least scores of any county which has played three games and only marginally more than those who have played twice.
Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue remain key to that solidity but Gallagher admitted he has been delighted with how others like Conor Doherty, Padraig McGrogan and Conor McCluskey have grown into their defensive roles.
"Obviously with Brendan and Chrissy and their reputations, I would have known them coming in but since working with them they have been better than I ever thought," explained Gallagher.
"Since we came in we've played Conor Doherty and Paudie McGrogan nearly every day. We're playing 'Clucky' (Conor McCluskey) now that he's fit all the time and Odhran Lynch is the same. We were establishing a new group of defenders and Ethan Doherty is another one playing in the defence today. The sooner they get to 20, 25 appearances the more mature they'll get and the more experience you have. We've stuck through a couple of bad days with them and they have rewarded us."