By Michael McMullan
A QUICK-FIRE start against Fermanagh on Saturday gave Derry the opportunity to get their key men on the front foot says Brendan Rogers.
The Sleacht Néill man said a line was quickly drawn under their Dublin league final defeat ahead of the championship.
Derry’s analysis came down to two elements. The Oakleafers should’ve been further in front at half time and didn’t get enough pressure on the Dubs in their killer second half.
“We got bodies back but didn’t get the right contact on and they (Dublin) got goals out of it,” Rogers said. “They are the small margins against good teams, but it was a really good opportunity to learn.
“When you look back at the game and see how competitive we are on those days, we just have to make it count on the scoreboard.”
Rogers played in Eoin McEvoy for a point on his debut against Fermanagh, after a mere 43 seconds, as Derry surged four points clear.
“We thought it would be tight so it was good to get that margin. It definitely takes the pressure off. We were able to get a few of our guys one on one and do what they can, the likes of Ethan Doherty and Shane (McGuigan).”
Padraig Cassidy and Conor McCluskey hit points late on, taking Derry’s range of scorers to 11 players. Rogers spoke of the need to ease the scoring burden.
“You have to have that spread,” he said. “If you look at all the top teams, the Kerrys and the Galways of this world all have their corner backs scoring as well and we can’t be any different.”
After playing most of his career at full-back, Rogers is a potent weapon with this surging runs further up the field.
From a playing point of view, Rogers points out how football is a game of waves. Attack at will on the ball, but trekking back is important and there needs to be care in not hanging your team “out to dry” with sloppiness in possession.
“Everybody gets back and if a team has a slow build-up play, all the more reason to get back,” said Rogers, well-placed to give his insight.
“It is different on a counterattack, you try and scramble as best you can. No good team is going to let their full-back line be exposed.
“It’s just the nature of it, everyone defends and everyone attacks. It is just the manner of how everyone goes about doing it.”
In an attacking sense, there are different approaches – the slow and measured version, kicking and the handpass over the top to a runner cutting back inside.
“That varies between all the teams,” Rogers added. “There is that variety now where everybody goes up and down the pitch.”
On Saturday, Chrissy McKaigue started on Ultan Kelm with Magherafelt duo Conor McCluskey and Eoin McEvoy sharing spells on Darragh McGurn.
“Everyone is accountable depending on the scenario of the pitch they find themselves in,” Rogers adds.
“With matchups, you don’t want big on small in the inside line and things like that, but there is an element of matchups all over the pitch with people you’d be wary of.
“Defenders can now be as deadly as inside men so you always have to have your eye on quality players throughout the pitch.
“It does come with all its challenges but you do have to back yourself that you’ve trained and can be competitive in all facets and that everyone can adapt to any scenario at any time.”