Rory Gallagher’s appointment has received a ringing endorsement from the man he will succeed as Derry Senior Football manager.
Damian McErlain guided Derry to the Division Four title last season as well as leading the Oak Leaf minors to two Ulster Championships and an All Ireland final over the course of his five years at Owenbeg.
He reluctantly stepped down in July due to personal circumstances but believes Derry have found the perfect man to replace him.
“I think it is a super appointment,” revealed the Magherafelt man. “We are bringing a man in who has real experience of what it takes at county level.
“As a manager, I think he has been involved in three out of the last five Ulster finals so the experience he brings, even at All Ireland level, is absolutely superb.
“What he can bring to a squad which is just about to get younger with an influx of Under 20s, will be the standards that every player needs to be at to achieve their goal, be it an Ulster title or whatever else. That’s probably an education process that the Derry players need.
“They won’t be able to look at Rory and say, ‘Well, how do you know?’ They’ll see this man at the top of his game in that sense, in terms of preparation. He’ll make demands of them and hopefully the players will respond. He can definitely take Derry forward, it’s a really good appointment.”
McErlain also said retaining the services of Ciaran Meenagh could give Gallagher a crucial head start in terms of preparing for the new season.
“Ciaran being back in is absolutely huge to give us that continuity. It fast tracks Rory’s pre-Christmas time in the sense that Ciaran knows exactly where we were strong and where we weren’t.
“We feel we made really good progress in 2019 so from a personal point of view, I’m hoping he has been given a bit of a head start in terms of where the players’ heads are at.”