We never doubted our ability to compete against Tyrone says Derry's Brendan Rogers
Brendan Rogers says missing out on promotion failed to dent Derry’s belief that they were capable of causing an Ulster Championship shock against All Ireland champions, Tyrone.
The Oak Leafers lost only one game in Division Two but a draw against Roscommon, coupled with a heavy defeat to Galway in Owenbeg, saw Rory Gallagher men’s miss out on top flight football by a single point. It caused some to question Gallagher’s squad but those questions were answered in some style on Sunday.
“We want to pitch ourselves as a Division One team,” explained Rogers after the 1-18 to 0-10 win, “We didn’t get there this year but that’s where we want to be so we are always aiming to be top level in training and top level in matches. Look, maybe people took the Galway game as a marker than we weren’t capable but that’s just not the case.
“We knew ourselves that we didn’t do ourselves justice that day in Owenbeg and it was a matter of coming here to Healy Park and putting in a performance.
“We were very capable last year against Donegal and while we didn’t come out on the right side of it that day, it gave us the belief that we were at the level we wanted to be and when we apply ourselves and come in a controlled fashion, that’s what can happen. Thankfully, things went our way today and there were a lot of good score and, yes, the penalty and the red card were pivot points in the game but we stayed in control and managed the rest of the game.”
Rogers described the Oak Leaf performance as “controlled” and revealed they had been working on maintaining composure in the build up to the quarter-final.
“It was controlled. We never got ahead of ourselves in terms of the build up to the game or anything like that,” added the Slaughtneil defender, “We never got too excited when the score was in our favour. It was a big momentum swinger with the red card and in a lot of games you could go and get nothing out of momentum like that, or it maybe gets a bit frantic in terms of organisation, but we got the penalty and made it count.
“The penalty gave us a bit of breathing space and put us in a good space coming up to half-time and from there it was a matter of controlling the game, not deviating from what had worked for us in the first half and try to build on that.
“I thought the forwards were very good, kept a very good positional sense and were devastating when they needed to be. It’s a very big scoreline against Tyrone who are renowned for having a formidable defence.”
Derry now face Monaghan in the last four at the Armagh Atheltic Grounds in two weeks’ time and Rogers is expecting another tough Ulster Championship test.
“Monaghan are a very good team who have won a couple of Ulster Championships in the last decade or so. They enjoyed a very good end to their league campaign to make sure they stayed up and have some very dangerous forwards and they too have a very good defence.
“It won’t be an easy game and we will give them the respect they deserve but, look, we will try to look after ourselves,” he added.