Peter Canavan and Michael Murphy backing Rory Gallagher to do great job in Derry
Two of Ulster's top GAA icons have strongly backed Rory Gallagher's appointment as manager of the Derry senior footballers.
And Tyrone great Peter Canavan hit out at the labelling of Gallagher as a “one-trick pony” for his defensive approach that has been coming from some quarters.
“The criticism that has been directed towards him has been unfair,” said the winner of the best Player of the past 25 years, at the Irish News GAA Ulster All Stars gala night in the Armagh City Hotel.
And Donegal captain Michael Murphy, and Irish News Ulster Player of the Year, who played under Gallagher, said the Belleek, Fermanagh native was “going to go in to Derry and do a brilliant job.”
Gallagher, ex-boss of Donegal and Fermanagh, was ratified as Oak Leaf boss but only after a vote where some clubs voted against his appointment apparently in protest at the alleged process in his appointment.
“I think the criticism that has been coming from outside is unfair. He has been labelled as a one-trick pony, that he can only play one way,'' said the former Tyrone star.
“But anyone who knows Rory Gallagher and how well he studies the game, they will soon figure out that he is far from a one-trick pony.
“Did he get the best out of Fermanagh this year with limited options in terms of players at his disposal?
“And you have to put this in context with the Tyrone's, Donegal's and Mayo's he will always figure what is the best way for his players to win.”
“When I was a player, did I want a manager that we would love, have great craic and win nothing or did you want to have a manager who maybe you think that this was the best chance of winning something?
“It is all about winning and the time that you have to play inter county football, it is over in a flash and you want to make the most of it while you are there.
“So, anybody that increases your chances of winning is welcome, so I would imagine a lot of the players in Derry would believe that a man of Gallagher's experience would put them in a good position moving forward.”
Gallagher has shipped a lot of criticism for his defensive football with Fermanagh, something Canavan strongly questions.
“Ironically it was not a case that they were playing defensive football that they were not getting shots away.
“They were getting shots away, creating up to 16 chances in a couple of games but it was their inaccuracy that let them down.
“In the League and Championship their conversion rate was very poor and if that had been better then things could have been different for him.
“Rory is in Derry because he sees potential in Derry as I do.
“I have come up against their schools on a regular basis.
“I have seen their minors and U20's in Ulster and they are as strong as any team in Ulster over a four- or five-year period.
“And club football in Derry is hard hitting, different styles and loads of quality and you can't blame Rory Gallagher for that and then you have the Slaughtneil factor.
“He has a freshness coming in and if he can get the best players out on the pitch for Derry then Derry will at the very least gain promotion out of Division Three.”
Meanwhile Donegal star Michael Murphy said Gallagher was going to go into Derry and “do a brilliant job”.
“He is always going to stay in football and his knowledge of football is second to none,'' said Murphy.
“Just like what he did with Fermanagh he will put his heart and soul into it and he will bring all his expertise.
“Derry have the raw materials for Rory to work so they are going to be a huge proposition in the near future.
“With draws in the Ulster Championship, Derry have been a bit unlucky, but they pushed Tyrone all the way last year.
“Look at the success of Slaughtneil and the great success of their minor or U20 teams, St Pat's Maghera and the success of other school teams.
“Without a doubt, they have the footballers and the footballing ability and over the last few years they have been trying to put it all together.
“And no doubt, when Rory is at the helm, he will bring his great coaching ability to Derry.
“Rory has a mad hunger with a huge desire to win and maybe that gets overshadowed at times, but he will a huge factor in Derry next year.''