When reporters go hunting for quotes on matchday, the experience can frequently be a dispiriting one.
Catch the winners on a day they want to play down an accomplishment, or get losers who just accept their fate without lobbing a few grenades the way of officialdom of any stripe, and it is all very humdrum indeed.
But after Derry beat Tyrone, their captain Chrissy McKaigue opened a window into the Oak Leaf camp and let us peer but briefly inside.
“The management have brought an unbelievable professionalism and a complete togetherness to a Derry jersey that I have never had in my career to date,” said the Slaughtneil man.
“They have brought an unbelievable camaraderie to a Derry jersey that, in the past, probably had been a wee bit fractured, let’s be honest. That is not the case now. There are boys who are best friends from different clubs, they are living out of each other’s pockets.
“It’s so refreshing to see. Don’t tell me it doesn’t translate onto the pitch; it does.”
It’s been said so often that it is one of those hoary old clichés so overused as to be stripped of meaning. But still and all, there’s something to it.
As there is to those other multiple theories abounding around Derry football; that there is a distinct disconnect between county and club because their main stadium is in Derry city and not the hotbeds of south Derry. Or even that the majority of the fanbase is actually in the north of the county.
Until real success is achieved, comparisons between Rory Gallagher and Eamonn Coleman remain on ice. But Coleman was credited by the players of the time for having mended severe fractures in the squad, not least between Dungiven and Lavey, who were constantly at war.
Gallagher’s former school teacher and coach, the Fermanagh All-Star Peter McGinnity, is not afraid to explore the theme.
“That’s a similarity between him (Gallagher) and maybe Eamonn Coleman. Derry must be one of the most difficult places to manage for a county manager because of the inter-club rivalry, the intensity of the football and the intensity of the rivalry,” says McGinnity.
“And Eamonn was able to box and kick and scream and get over that and get the players all playing for Derry.
“That takes some doing. It takes a certain type of manager, a certain type of personality but the end result for Eamonn Coleman, and possibly Rory Gallagher, is exactly the same. They have managed to get the bull by the horns. Climbing, tramping, getting into them come hell or high water and with the rivalry that Derry have, that’s what they need.”
In decades of watching the Derry Championship, veteran reporter Bernie Mullan had seen it all. But he doesn’t believe in any genuine animosity nowadays.
“Overall, the rivalry is not that intense because I have been watching Derry Championship football all my life now, and in the last seven, eight, nine years there hardly was a player sent off in a Derry Championship match,” says Mullan. “Even that talk about all the rivalry between the clubs in Derry was really over-hyped. Because what happened in Derry, you had a tendency for clubs to have a run of success. Ballinderry had a run, Slaughtneil had a run, Lavey and Bellaghy before all that and Glen are now sitting on a situation where they are going to be hard to stop for the next four or five years.”
Mullan points out that the Derry team that won the 1993 All-Ireland was fashioned out of a series of minor teams that won All-Irelands in 1983 and 1989.
This Sunday, another Derry minor team is in the Ulster final. That makes it six deciders in the last eight years. That’s a lot of players filtering through onto the senior panel that have a history of relative success.
“Maybe the fact about there being more togetherness is related to the fact there are players geared towards winning and committed to winning,” explains Mullan.
“I can never recall a situation where anyone would have said, ‘I’m not going to play for Derry because so and so is on’.
“It was basically Derry’s lack of success when that sprung up. And that was because they didn’t have good enough players, full stop.”
That’s not to take away the point about togetherness. McKaigue is very much right in his convictions in that sense.
Gallagher has an in-built intolerance of those who do not fully invest into the team project. The recent departure of Ciaran McFaul from the county panel was interesting to McGinnity.
“The Derry thing just at the minute — those players that he has, they are doing exactly what he wants them to do, because if they weren’t, they would be in America or something.
“I was surprised when Ciaran McFaul went. I’m not sure if Rory wasn’t delighted he left the panel and that was despite the fact that Rory had made a player out of him by putting him to centre-half.
“I had thought, ‘Oh God, that’s a bit of a blow’, but it quickly became evident that that wasn’t a blow.
“That was a positive thing for Derry, one more fly out of the ointment and everything was now a hundred per cent focused.
“Now I’m not that sure he was that annoyed about McFaul going.”