Rory Gallagher hoping to make Ulster impact
By Cian O’Connell
With training and matches cancelled for months, Derry manager Rory Gallagher wanted to use his time wisely.
While collective sessions were curtailed that didn’t stop Gallagher planning and plotting for the Ulster Championship.
Sunday’s clash with Armagh carries some intrigue with Gallagher adamant that he tried to use the spell between March and when club action resumed appropriately.
“I can only speak for ourselves, I think we used the time really well,” Gallagher says. “I came in as a relatively outside manager so it takes a bit of time to get to know players. I feel that the break was very good for Derry.
“At the start of the League we had injuries, I was trying to get my feet in under and to get to know people. We used the time very well, we had a lot of young players, who needed to get rehab properly, to get gym work. When you have games that focus sometimes can't be there.
“We changed a lot of our backroom too, and the people that were there you get to know people. I'm certainly very happy with the way we have handled the break.
“The Slaughtneil players, in particular, needed the downtime. The juggernaut of football over a number of years, they were able to refresh themselves. I personally enjoyed the break from the point of view of getting our house in order in Derry.”
When the club games recommenced Gallagher was busy attending matches and was encouraged by the evidence available in Derry.
“Yeah, definitely, and I think the standard of club football throughout the country was excellent this year,” Gallagher admits.
“I think in the games in Ulster that I was lucky enough to see that it was very good. In Derry you'd go to the matches, and in the north you were allowed some level of spectators. You'd have people asking you were you going looking for new players, but we weren't going looking for new players.
“We were going looking for the players that we believed would be playing against Armagh. We wanted to see them playing well, to see them looking fresh and looking hungry, playing at a high level.
“We had a couple of players coming back from injury that hadn't played in the National League. I feel we got that and I was very pleased with how our top seven or eight players were playing.
“They looked really at it, they looked really hungry, and they looked up to the challenge of moving forward with their careers.”
Gallagher is eager to improve Derry's recent record in Ulster. “That is something I’m looking to channel," Gallagher states.
“A lot of the players haven’t won many Ulster championship matches and that at the end of the day is a huge sense of hurt on your pride and self-esteem because the Ulster Championship is very special and where you want to play.
“Runs in back-doors are grand, but you want to win Ulster Championship matches and have that sense of achievement, so that is something we will focus on”.