No danger of Derry complacency against Clare says Rory Gallagher
Rory Gallagher says there's no danger of Derry complacency as they chase the point which will guarantee a first return to Division One since 2015 for the Oak Leafers.
Gallagher's team are well poised having won five from five en route to topping the Division Two table with games against Clare (h) and Cork (A) to finish. Indeed, the euphoria after Brendan Rogers' injury time point secured a superb victory over Dublin in Celtic Park two weeks ago suggested some fans were thinking was all but a formality but that's not a view shared by the Derry management or players.
With Cork poised to take advantage of slip by the league's top two, Gallagher said their only focus is on ensuring they are as well prepared as possible for Sunday's visit of Clare, a team Derry have now met three times in little over 12 months.
"We'd be very aware, and have been for some time now, about the sequence of events if we did win or lose any games," explained the Derry boss.
"We knew with the way Cork were shaping up from early on that if we looked after business up to now, that we'd still have to get a result in this game and nothing has changed about that. Our complete focus will be on performing really, really well and trying to improve on aspects from the Dublin game. If we do that, I've no doubt we can win the game.
"We have a fully fit squad so we can't complain. The break was good to help get a few boys moving through the gears again. Gareth (McKinless) has been getting back up to full speed, Shea and Matthew Downey as well, they've all been able to get a bit more training in after missing some weeks so we are very grateful for it.
"The break allowed everyone to take a small breath, recharge and get ready for the final hurdle."
The league aspirations of the two counties could barely be much different going into Sunday encounter at Owenbeg, the home side anxious to secure top flight football and the Banner County in the thick of a relegation with a home game against Limerick to come in their final league fixture.
Clare currently sit second from bottom with only one victory, against Louth, from their five games.
It's a run that has left Colm Collins' team precariously poised but also one that doesn't tell the full story of a campaign beset by near misses as Clare let both Dublin and Kildare off the hook in games they should have won, a fact not lost on Gallagher.
"It is a bit ironic that it will be the third time we have played Clare in the last 12 months or so which is very unusual when you are talking about a county not from our own province," added the Oak manager, "But the fact that we know each other quite well at this point doesn't really change anything.
"Look, the opposition changes but it's up to ourselves to bring the right attitude, to prepare really well and likewise for Clare who can count themselves very unfortunate to find themselves where they are, so I would expect them to come with serious hunger and drive and it's up to us to bring our own.
"Clare definitely don't deserve to be second last place in the league. We went down to watch them against Kildare and they should have won that game, not even drawn it, they should have won it. They were very unlucky to be caught right at the end against Dublin and only for as couple of very bad goals against Meath they were probably the better team that day as well.
"Definitely in those Kildare and Dublin games they were in very winnable position, maybe not as much the Meath game having given away those goals but they played really well and scored 16 points. We'll know what they are about and they know what we are about so it's just a case of us going out, looking after ourselves and being ready for it."
Victory or a draw would not only mean promotion for Derry but also a League final to be played two weeks before the Ulster Championship opener against Fermanagh in the new championship format. The new format had sparked recent debate over the connotations of a potential Division One final between Mayo and Roscommon, days out from the two meeting in the Connacht Championship but Gallagher says looking that far ahead is not a liberty any Ulster manager could ever take and he believes the new format will eventually prove popular.
"In Ulster we can only ever look at things week on week and I'd imagine that's the same for most counties in Ireland, all we can do is focus on what's in front of us," he explained
"We are not thinking about that but most people have probably seen the comments about Mayo and Roscommon. Again I don;t think any management or players look that far head. They look at the week's training and what is need to be done for the next match over the course of that week.
"(The format) is a new thing but in a couple of years no one will be talking about it because it's just the way it is going to be. The new norm is that you're going to be playing Gaelic football week on week at county level and I think in the grand scheme of things that's a good thing.
"It's the way we looked at things last year and we have kept that going this year. We don't look to far ahead. The opposition is going to change and there are going to be big games but that's what we hope because you want big games on a regular basis. That old three or four week buildup to games, that's gone now and I think it is a good thing.
"It's what football fans want, we want more games but from a playing point of view we're not worried about what's two or three weeks down the line, we're just worried about Sunday against Clare."