Rory Gallagher backs Derry for further progress. (Pic Willie Donnellan)
Derry manager Rory Gallagher believes the county are on course to rejoin the country’s blue chip teams.
The Oakleafers will return to Division Two for the first time since 2017, and confirmed their second promotion in three years, defeating Limerick by four points on Saturday.
Indeed, an early season filleting of bogey team Longford bolstered that confidence.
“Delighted for the boys to get promoted,” he said soon after Derry’s fourth consecutive league victory. “Hand on heart I had a pretty good idea we were going to after beating Longford.
“Part of me started thinking about the championship because we were at a really good level. And we’ve backed it up with a number of very good displays.
“We respected Limerick but we knew if we produced a good display we felt we were the better team. It’s good now that we’re looking up. It’s on the journey to where we want to be. I’m happy.”
The cream will eventually rise to the top and the Fermanagh man’s belief in his players has never waned throughout his Oakleaf tenure.
“You look at the quality of players in Derry, the quality of the clubs and the underage coaching and Division Three is not where you should be. And you have to find a way out and the players take great credit for it.”
But despite a league campaign that has turned a few heads and garnered the plaudits, Gallagher accepts that there is plenty to do still in the Owenbeg training fields.
“It’s the fine wee areas like the opposition kick outs, like being clinical up front. That’s the difference between us and the top teams in the country.”
That said, the Derry boss admits that the league season has ticked a few important boxes.
“When teams drop off you and sit back I say to the players it’s a compliment,” he said. “They fear you and they know you can rack up big scores and create a lot of opportunities.
“Am I happy with the potential, the way we can dominate games and the quality? I am.”
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