Gallagher delighted with potential in Derry as Oak Leafs seal promotion to Division Two after win over Limerick
Allianz Football League Division Three semi-final: Derry 0-17 Limerick 0-13
RORY Gallagher believes Derry are on course to dine at football's top table. Gallagher's side will return to Division Two for the first time since 2017, after confirming their second promotion in three years by defeating Limerick by four points on Saturday in Carrick-on-Shannon. Indeed, an early season filleting of bogey team Longford fortified that confidence.
“Delighted for the boys to get promoted,” Gallagher said soon after Derry's fourth consecutive League victory.
“Hand on heart I had a pretty good idea we were going to after beating Longford. Part of me started thinking about the Championship because we were at a really good level. And we've backed it up with a number of very good displays.
“We respected Limerick but we knew if we produced a good display we felt we were the better team.”
“It's good now that we're looking up. It's on the journey to where we want to be. I'm happy.”
Shane McGuigan top scored once again for Derry, hitting six points, with the industrious Benny Heron impressing with three first half points from play.
Opponents Limerick, backed by a small but vocal support, took advantage of the slight breeze wafting in from the Shannon end and edged ahead 0-2 to a point early on. But by the first water break the Oak Leaf men had pulled level at 0-5 apiece despite losing Emmett Bradley to the sin bin for what appeared an innocuous enough off the ball collision.
Derry found an extra gear upon the restart the after taking a 0-8 to 0-7 into the interval. Paul Cassidy, landing a clinker from distance, was among the scorers as his side stretched their lead to 0-12 to 0-8. The Munster men clung to Derry's coattails with star man Hughie Bourke's ability to dissect the posts keeping Limerick in the game.
But as the game entered the home straight Derry never looked in any real trouble. Paul McNeill and impact sub Niall Toner, with two, both raised white flags as Shane McGuigan continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
“You look at the quality of players in Derry, the quality of the clubs and the underage coaching, and Division Three is not where you should be.You have to find a way out and the players take great credit for it," said Gallagher.
“We're at a stage now where we can get a really consistent level of performance. But it's the fine wee areas like the opposition kick outs, like being clinical up front. That's the difference between us and the top teams in the country.
“Am I happy with the potential, the way we can dominate games, and the quality? I am.”
Derry: O Lynch; C McKaigue, P McNeill (0-1), P McGrogan; P Cassidy (0-1), G McKinless, C Doherty (0-1); C Glass, E Bradley; E Doherty, N Loughlin (0-2, 0-1 free), C McFaul (0-1); B Heron (0-3), S McGuigan (0-6, 0-5 frees), P Cassidy
Subs: N Toner (0-2) for P Cassidy (55), C McCluskey for P Cassidy (62), O McWilliams for B Heron (69), M McEvoy for C Doherty (69), J Doherty for N Loughlin (70)
Limerick: D O'Sullivan; S O'Dea, B Fanning, M Donovan; R Childs, I Corbett, G Brown; D Treacy, T Childs; T Griffin, R Burke (0-1), A Enright; D Neville (0-1), C Fahy (0-1), H Bourke (0-7, 0-4 frees)
Subs: C Sheehan for T Griffin (30), T McCarthy for R Childs (44), S O'Carroll for A Enright (50), J Ryan (0-3, 0-1 45) for R Bourke (55), K Ryan T Childs (63), P Nash for G Brown (63)
Ref: N Mooney (Cavan)