Derry picked up an important win over Tipperary at Celtic Park to keep their hopes of promotion from Division 3 alive. (Photos - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Rory Gallagher paid tribute to the 'character' of his players as they overcame Storm Ciara, a potential postponement and a 13-man Tipperary side to win their first game of the season and keep their promotion hopes alive in the process.
The Derry boss finally enjoyed his first win, at the fifth time of trying, on an otherwise forgettable day at Celtic Park, which saw them win comfortably enough against an indisciplined Tipperary who finished with 13 men.
It keeps Derry in the hunt at the top of Division 3 and Gallagher, whilst not wholly satisfied, was pleased that his team got the job done in the circumstances.
“I thought we were the better team by a good stretch,” he stated. “In the first half we controlled the game in a very strong breeze. In the second half we weren't clinical enough. We should have been finishing that game with 1-14, 1-15 at our ease.
“We played much better last week than we did this week. It's old school tradition but I felt we didn't get enough blocks on last week, we didn't put enough pressure on the ball going in and today we did that much better and that's probably resulted in Tipp being held scoreless from play.”
Gallagher admitted that the uncertainty in the build up to the game was not at all helpful, with the Derry boss expecting the game to be postponed after witnessing the rain at Celtic Park on Saturday night.
“In the morning we probably felt that it wasn't going to be on,” he said. “It was a bit of a lottery and you could see the way it cut up there. To be brutally honest I stayed up last night and witnessed the rain.
“We were up at the Brunswick and the kids were coming out and it was absolutely baltic and the rain was coming in.
“In fairness the pitch improved and to be fair that's part of the challenge of being a sportsman or athlete because you have got to be mentally strong and to be fair the lads started the game strong and that didn't seem to impact them.”
Yesterday's game was certainly not the most entertaining nor memorable of games, but for Gallagher and his players it was all about the result.
“When it was 0-9, 0-4 you would like to have seen us push on but to be honest I thought there were one or two soft frees again,” he continued. “We didn't push on but we overplayed the ball and dropped a couple short and maybe Alex had a couple of shots we missed and we had Sammy's (Christopher Bradley) goal chance and we had Danny's (Tallon) chance.
“Those things, maybe instead of stretching the game out to 1-11, or 12 or 13 points maybe leaves it a wee bit more nervy than it should but I suppose the boys are saying that we haven't beaten a team ranked like Tipperary in a couple of years so it probably leads to a wee bit of fear.”
After disappointments of various natures against Leitrim and Down, yesterday's win was important for Derry in the short term as well as in the bigger picture.
“We need to have an open mind,” Gallagher continued. “We want to be better at the end of the league than we were at the start. That's the approach we have taken because we are with a new group and we are trying to build a consistency here.
“I'm not from Derry but looking in from the outside the turnover in players, the in and out of the squad, the lack of consistency in selection, the lack of togetherness probably, we're really trying to build on that.
“We think the age of the squad is really, really good there and we know there's good talent that's come through in Derry but it's a matter now of sticking together. It's a test of character and generally the people who are mentally toughest and the strongest characters win out.”
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