By Michael McMullan
DERRY weren’t prepared enough for last year’s league insists manager Rory Gallagher ahead of Saturday’s visit of Limerick to get the 2023 campaign up and running.
The Oakleafers had eight points from their first four games last year before being held to a draw in Roscommon in a game that saw Shane McGuigan controversially suspended for their trimming at home to Galway that all but ended their promotion hopes.
Despite finishing with 11 points, Derry failed to get promoted and while Gallagher admits his side were “relatively unlucky”, his firmly summed up assessment leaves little ambiguity of what he takes from last season.
“I learnt that we weren’t prepared enough for it,” Gallagher said of their 2022 league. “We weren’t focused well enough and we weren’t hungry enough.
“We may have been relatively unlucky, but I don’t believe we deserved to go up as a result of that.
“We have to take that on the chin and regroup, we are back to the base now where we have to fight for points.”
“I just felt we weren’t at the level we wanted to be at, absolutely, and I made that very clear to the boys
“Success is about fulfilling our potential,” Gallagher continued. “There may be trophies or there may not be trophies along the way, but you have to be very clear and true to what your ability can be and you have got to maximise that.”
Speaking after their McKenna Cup final win over Tyrone, the Derry boss stressed the importance of the game, billing it as “massive” given just having seven games to gain promotion to the top flight for the first time since 2015 and how last year’s bid fell short.
Gallagher is glad the rivalry with Tyrone is back, with both counties now competing at the upper echelons of the game.
“To be playing top teams and to have six-point lead wiped out then playing into the breeze and up the hill it was a good test that we passed today,” he said of how his team regrouped after seeing their 0-7 to 0-1 interval lead wiped out before coming back to win by 12 points.
“We now have to look after teams that we are expected to beat. The best way to do that is to respect ourselves and be true to ourselves on where we need to be better.
“Some of the video from the Fermanagh and the Tyrone games wasn’t too pleasant, some of the video from Down wasn’t too pleasant but the boys have developed relationships with each other that they can improve. It will be the same as we get ready for Limerick.”