By Michael McMullan
DERRY manager Rory Gallagher has given his players the week off ahead of Sunday’s trip to Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Last weekend’s win over Clare clinched the promotion spot the Oakleafers missed out on last year and with Cork losing to Louth, it leaves Sunday’s game a dead rubber.
“We had planned to take a week off after the league but we will be taking that week off this week,” Gallagher said after the Oakleafers’ win over Clare.
“We will get ready for Cork but boys need down time, they need time to go and live and get away,” he said hinting at some players going on holiday with the “hell for leather” nature of the championship phase to follow Sunday week’s league final.
“We said with the way it was shaping up, if we could get promoted today, then they could go and everybody just takes a wee bit of down time and then gets ready because the season, once we come back, it is going to be hell for leather.”
Derry await the outcome of Sunday’s Croke Park clash of Dublin and Louth with Mickey Harte’s side needing a win to clinch promotion and a spot on the final by virtue of head-to-head.
Eoin McEvoy (groin) and Conor Doherty (hamstring) carried slight injuries into the visit of Clare and the Derry boss referred to Brendan Rogers not feeling well on the morning of the game.
All three were replaced and the Cork game could give the opportunity for the Derry management to dip into their squad.
Goalkeeper Ryan Scullion, who replaced Connlan Bradley in the squad this year, is the only player yet to make his debut.
Kevin Johnston has only got a few minutes at the tail end of the McKenna Cup final after returning to the panel. Incidentally, Johnston and Benny Heron are the only current players to have feature in Derry’s last-ever game in Division One, a home win over Cork in the final game of their 2015 relegation season.