Promotion on line but Derry boss Rory Gallagher backs players to find right response against Meath

Derry manager Rory Gallagher. (Photo: George Sweeney)Derry manager Rory Gallagher. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Derry manager Rory Gallagher. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Allianz Leagues, Division Two: Meath v Derry (Sunday, Páirc Tailteann, 2pm)

Rory Gallagher says he could live with missing out on promotion as long as he sees the desired reaction from his players when Derry take on Meath in Navan this Sunday (2pm).

The race to reach Division One was taken out of Derry’s hands by last week’s disappointing 11-point defeat to Galway at Owenbeg, Derry’s first league defeat in 13 games. The result means the Oak Leafers must defeat the Royals in their final game and hope the already promoted Tribesmen do them a favour in Dr. Hyde Park against Roscommon.

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Gallagher has made no secret of the fact he wants to see Derry back playing top flight football but despite his disappointment at having control of their fate taken from them, he remains convinced they are on the right path and wants to see that progress maintained.

“Our focus is on beating Meath and if we don’t go up having lost one game I’ll certainly be able to live with that,” explained the Derry boss, “I’d be very disappointed in how we lost that game and why we lost it, but the big thing for ourselves has always been constantly improving and I think we have.

“Sometimes to improve you have to take a step back and have to look at the reasons as to why you lost a particular game and to us as a management team and a group of players, we have been very clear about what we did so poorly against Galway.

“By and large, in the five games up to that Galway match - without ever being at our best early on - we were very controlled against reasonable opposition teams. Look, we are aware of where we are at and I am pleased that we are developing. I will be even more pleased on Sunday evening if we react well to the setback that we had last week.”

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Gallagher admits facing Roscommon and Galway has been a step up in quality for Derry but he doesn’t believe there is much between the teams and says the players and management have identified where they went wrong.

“There’s no doubt Galway and Roscommon were a step up in competition but if you are asking me, no, I don’t think there is a lot between Galway, Roscommon and ourselves as teams. That’s obviously not reflective of the scoreline last week but I believe it’s a very easy fix for ourselves.

“It’s something that should not have happened but it has happened and we can’t turn the clock back now. We need to learn from it and make sure the likes of that does not happen again. Now our focus has to be beating Meath because I’m expecting a very tough test and a rip roaring contest.”