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Rory Gallagher: Derry have grown too reliant on Shane McGuigan


On form: Shane McGuigan is Derry’s top scorer but Rory Gallagher believes he requires more help

On form: Shane McGuigan is Derry’s top scorer but Rory Gallagher believes he requires more help

�INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

On form: Shane McGuigan is Derry’s top scorer but Rory Gallagher believes he requires more help

Derry manager Rory Gallagher is preparing for his biggest challenge since taking up his post when his side takes on unbeaten Cork in Division Three of the Allianz Football League on Sunday.

Cork lead the table with maximum points from four matches, while Derry, Longford, Offaly and Down are all bracketed on five points in joint second place.

And Gallagher is in no doubt as to what he sees as a priority in his team's bid to make it into Division Two.

"We need to get a greater spread of scorers within the side," he insist.

"We maybe have been relying too heavily on Shane McGuigan so far and it's important that we get other players to step up to the mark.

"We have people like Benny Heron and Niall Toner in there and indeed others who can take scores.

"When you look at teams like Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone and Mayo and indeed Armagh, you can see the spread of scorers they have and this is helping them.

"When we beat Louth last Sunday, it was by a four-point margin but I thought that we could have come out on top by nine or 10 points had we taken more of our chances."

The Cork defence has leaked only a modest 1-15 to date and this is another factor that persuades Gallagher (right) that scores might be difficult to come by in Pairc Uí Chaoimh.

"Cork will be at home, they have a winning mentality and the challenge for us will be to make our chances count if we are to stay in the race for promotion," he adds.

Top scorer McGuigan is equally forceful in stressing the necessity of putting scores on the board early so that Derry do not find themselves chasing the game.

"This is one game in which we have to be as accurate as we can be," says McGuigan.

"The result will be very important in terms of our promotion bid and we know that Cork have quality players up front who can punish us if they are supplied with generous possession".

Niall Loughlin marked his return to the team by scoring a goal against Louth, while Toner is also back in the attack.

"It's good to have these guys back because they are quality players," explains Gallagher.

"The important thing in relation to Sunday's game is that we try to keep the pressure on. We have tended to retreat back into our shell a little bit in some games including against Louth instead of taking the game to our opponents. It's vital that we do this on Sunday in particular."

Derry are still without Michael McEvoy and the long-serving Enda Lynn, who was last year's captain when Damian McErlain was in charge.

This duo will bring a further raft of experience to the side but, for now, Gallagher acknowledges that he must go with the resources he has at his disposal.

"Enda and Michael will definitely be back for the Championship," insists the Oak Leaf boss. "To see them running, you'd almost think they could play now. It is a credit to them. Enda Lynn is a machine and a player we are looking forward to having back but you cannot rush it either."

"All the players, as much as we want them back, you have to think of what is best for them but they will be back for Championship. I'm very confident of that at this point in time. We have targeted getting them back playing club league football first because, as much as we want them back in the county set-up, we are not going to rush them. Looking at the two of them, I can't see them being out for too much longer."

But the prognosis on Coleraine Eoghan Rua duo Ruairi Mooney and Niall Holly is less encouraging.

"Ruairi is looking unlikely to play much this season," admits Gallagher. "He's going to have rehab and has another eight or 10 weeks, we just don't know.

"Niall is hoping to get back for the start of the club league. He is working away himself but, having missed all the inter-county stuff, we have to keep an open mind on him. As much as we would love to have him, we have to be practical. We will wait and see. We're staying in touch and he's rehabbing."

With Offaly due to host Down on Sunday, the outcome of this contest will be awaited with considerable interest by Derry fans.

The race to close the gap on Cork has intensified and it would be a considerable boost for Ulster if both Down and Derry could win.

Longford, meanwhile, will have home advantage against Tipperary and they will require a victory if they are to sustain their bid to reach Division Two.

Their manager Padraic Davis maintains that Division Two is developing into "a dog-fight".

Belfast Telegraph

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