McFlynn hopeful of Oak Leafer’s promotion hopes

FORMER Derry player Paul McFlynn is hopeful the Oakleafers can push for promotion to the top flight.

Rory Gallagher’s side welcome Cork to Owenbeg this weekend and McFlynn is happy with what he has seen so far in the campaign.

“They were impressive enough in the McKenna Cup,” he said. “One of the things that Rory has done, he has brought in young players like Matthew Downey and Lachlan Murray.”

McFlynn commented on the ‘great start’ against Down and Offaly, but feels that Roscommon and Galway will be the greatest challenge in the promotion race.

“Looking at their (Derry) performances and what they have, I would be hopeful that they will get promoted,” he said.

“I think Derry have a good base of young players coming in and they have the experienced players.”

McFlynn looks back on the recent success of Steelstown in the All-Ireland series and a second MacRory Cup for his old alma-mater St Mary’s Magherafelt as extra indicators of an improving health of football across the county.

“Probably over the years that has been thrown out there about Derry not getting enough county players out of the city,” said McFlynn.

“There are a couple of Steelstown boys on the (senior) panel now, which shows that they are coming through.

“They’ll hopefully inspire other clubs in the city and motivate players in other clubs to want a bit of that.

“If you look at the Convent winning the MacRory and Maghera knocking on the door, I think outside of that there are so many things contributing to Derry being on an upward curve.”

McFlynn feels there is now ‘togetherness’ and ‘spirit’ within the squad.

“Any time I chat to any of the senior players, they all seem to be really keen on Rory Gallagher,” McFlynn outlines.

“They like the setup, the style of play and seem to be really buying into it. I spoke to one of the players’ brothers and the word he used to me was that he was brainwashing them.”

McFlynn accepts that is a great sign of a manager, making the players believe in their progress as they look ahead to the next challenge.

Getting to Division One and beating Tyrone in the championship, should they overcome Fermanagh are two aims.

McFlynn acknowledges the Red Hands’ quality and credentials, with a desire to back up their success, something they failed to do on the three previous occasions Sam Maguire wintered in the county.

“Derry will have no fear of them, but they will respect them,” said McFlynn, who played in the 2006 clash when Derry chinned the champions in Healy Park.

“The big thing in order to propel you towards believing you can beat them is getting out of Division

“If Derry can manage promotion, they’ll have their tails up. Derry’s target over the next two or three years should be at least getting an Ulster title.”

TOP FLIGHT...Benny Heron chases down Paul Kerrigan in Derry's last game in division 1, a defeat at home to Cork in 2015

TOP FLIGHT…Benny Heron chases down Paul Kerrigan in Derry’s last game in division 1, a defeat at home to Cork in 2015

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