GAA Football

Progress won't happen overnight for Derry: Rory Gallagher

Derry boss Rory Gallagher pictured watching club championship games in the county last autumn. He admits the Derry camp have had their "eyes opened" by the start of the new season. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

RORY Gallagher says that progress for Derry “won’t happen overnight”, and that technical improvements must be prioritised over physical development.

Having played in a Division One final in 2014, the county’s footballers dropped like a stone to Division Four, but made the first step in its recovery last spring by winning promotion into the third tier.

Gallagher took over from Damian McErlain over the closed season and, down almost 20 men between injuries, club and university commitments, they lost their two McKenna Cup games against Monaghan and Donegal.

The former Fermanagh boss said that Derry have had their “eyes opened” by the “gulf in class” during those encounters, and says that the players must be in it for the long-haul if the county is to reach the heights it’s capable of.

"It isn't going to happen overnight, you have to work hard. We want a quick fix, absolutely. Obviously the quality of players we have coming in will lift us massively.

"I would say the boys have done an awful lot of good things and the boys have all worked really, really hard but it is on game days and against quality teams, we just have to have a better culture, better standards day after day.

"You can make excuses with the physical. If I had a choice of physically getting there or skills wise, decision wise and tactically, they would all come ahead of physically.

“But there is no doubt Donegal, an awful lot of their players - Brendan McCole, Paul Brennan, Michael Langan, Daire Ó Baoill, they are physically in really good nick but that doesn't happen overnight either.

“Caolan McGonagle must be on the panel four or five years, young Langan was in since 2016 or 2017, Caolan Ward is another, you have to serve your time and learn the right standards and the right culture.

“We have a lot of players there who have never played county football before and they are only starting out. It is somewhat tough for them not to have, seven, eight or nine established players but look, we knew that coming into the competition.

"You could have played games where it might have papered over the cracks but the one thing you have to be is honest with yourself. You have to know where you are at.

“We know there is a long way to go and we felt the Leitrim game [their opening Allianz League game] was going to a big game for us at the start of the year and that is our focus.”

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