Derry manager Rory Gallagher and selector Enda Muldoon. (Pic: Fintan McTiernan)
HEADLINE – Gallagher disappointed as Derry fall away from position of control
Disappointment was Rory Gallagher's initial reaction after the Oakleafers were left with nothing to show for their efforts in Sunday's opening game of the new season.
The new Derry boss described the opening moments of Sunday's clash as 'very nervy and very shaky' but after trailing 1-3 to nil following Aaron Mulligan's goal, he felt his side worked their way into a position to win the game.
“I think we played very well for the rest of the first-half and in the first 15 or 17 minutes of the second-half I thought we were really good as well,” Gallagher offered after the game.
“We fought really well and controlled the game up until the mid-point of the second-half, then got caught on a couple of our own kick-outs, and after that the game ran away from us a wee bit.”
It as the second meeting of the teams, after they met in a challenge game earlier in December and while Gallagher felt referee Paudie Hughes applied the sin-bin consistently, the Derry boss highlighted how Monaghan stopping Derry's running game in the early stages.
While in the dying minutes of the game Dermot Malone and Ciaran McFaul were both sent to the sin-bin, the Farney men picked up four yellow cards in the first 12 minutes.
“Monaghan showed some know-how to foul us in the right areas to stop the goals, in the first-half,” the former Fermanagh and Donegal supremo commented.
Like Seamus McEneaney, Gallagher opted to run his eye over some of the new players in his squad. The introduction of Alex Doherty took his tally of debutants to five for the day, while Ben McCarron has also yet to make his league debut.
“That’s the thing about the McKenna Cup, you’re accruing experience, getting ready for the league,” Gallagher added on Derry's new-look team.
"It was a very poor start and if it goes much further than that (1-3 to 0-0 deficit), it’s unassailable to come back. Listen, I was pleased with them, we dug in manfully and threatened a couple of goals.
"I thought they (Monaghan) showed an awful lot of maturity and know-how, division one know-how, that we didn’t,” the Derry boss added.
“We’re very naïve and that was reflected in how the game fell away from us in the second-half, and also at the start.
"I’m delighted with 40 odd minutes of that game, I thought we were outstanding, we controlled the ball and really looked a threat.”
Gallagher hailed the leadership of former minor captains Shea Downey and Padraig McGrogan. He also pointed to the impact of Ciaran McFaul, Emmet Bradley and Ryan Bell.
"It was an exceptionally young full-back line but there are a few grizzled veterans we’re looking forward to getting back into the defence as well,” quipped Gallagher.
Brendan Rogers, Liam McGoldrick, Chrissy and Karl McKaigue will be vying for starts in the back six for their league opener at home to Leitrim next month.
Along with Shane McGuigan, Niall Holly, Colm McGoldrick and Ruairi Mooney, they are preparing for this weekend's All-Ireland club hurling semi-finals with their respective clubs.
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