Derry manager Rory Gallagher has sounded a warning to his side ahead of their crucial Allianz Football League Division Three North game against Fermanagh at Owenbeg tomorrow (5pm).
Former Erne County boss Gallagher, fiercely committed to plotting a course into Division Two for his Oak Leaf outfit, does not pull his punches in underlining the necessity to maximise scoring chances in a short, sharp campaign in which he believes “there is no margin for error”.
While satisfied with the manner in which his team got the better of Longford last weekend by 0-21 to 0-5, rather than dwell on the 16-point winning margin, Gallagher prefers to ponder on missed chances which in different circumstances, he maintains, could have proved crucial.
And his warning is accompanied by an assertion that Fermanagh will come to Owenbeg reinvigorated by their win over Ulster champions Cavan last weekend having entered the contest as underdogs.
“To tell you the truth, I thought we should have had more scores on the board at half-time against Longford,” insisted Gallagher. “lf Longford had been more clinical we could have faced problems. We have to face up to the fact that when you move up the gears against opposition in the higher divisions you could suffer for missing chances.
“Fermanagh showed at the weekend against Cavan that they can take chances and they will have taken great heart from this win. From our perspective, it’s really a spread of scorers that we are after just now.”
Gallagher’s desire to see his team adopt an attacking policy has already been fuelled with the influence which Conor Glass and Emmet Bradley can wield at midfield and the support players such as Ciaran McFaul, Padraig Cassidy, Benny Heron and Niall Loughlin can lend to Shane McGuigan, who has been Derry’s prime source of scores in recent times.
Glass returned from his sojourn in the AFL to line out against Armagh in the Ulster Championship last November – a match which Derry lost by 1-17 to 1-15 – and now looks set to become a key pillar of the side going forward
He is likely to come up against Fermanagh strongman Eoin Donnelly tomorrow in what could prove a key battle in the overall conflict while Slaughtneil trio Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue look set to oversee the side’s resistance to a Fermanagh attack in which Sean Quigley was outstanding in the win over Cavan.
Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin may currently be stripped of the services of several players, including the Corrigan brothers Tomás and Ruairi and the Jones brothers Ryan and Conall, but he has already shown that he has the capacity to plug gaps in his line-up.
Josh Largo Ellis, Conor Love, Luke Flanagan and Darragh McGurn are among the newcomers who have been bedding down in the side and will be particularly keen to make an impact against what is a more experienced Derry side. But Fermanagh have their own ration of seasoned campaigners with Chris Snow, Quigley, James McMahon, Declan McCusker, Aidan Breen, Richard O’Callaghan and Ciaran Corrigan underpinning their side.
Derry boss Gallagher, who is more than familiar with Fermanagh’s personnel and strategy given the time he spent in charge of the side, is convinced that his team must get into their stride quickly and contain their opponents particularly in the middle third of the pitch.
“It’s absolutely vital that we get the two points from this match because our remaining scheduled game against Cavan is away and that won’t be easy for sure,” pointed out Gallagher.
“Division Three North seems that little bit stronger than Division Three South but it is what it is and we have known for some time that it was going to be like this.
“There is no doubt that the going will be tough from here on in but we have to get on with it. Maybe the fact that two of our three games are away from home could be said to be demanding but this is something the players should be able to deal with. In fact, it’s something we should all be able to deal with.”