Gallagher never doubted Glen stars would start

The Ulster champions cruised to a comfortable 0-16 to 0-4 victory over a disappointing Limerick side
Gallagher never doubted Glen stars would start

HAND OFF: Derry’s Ethan Doherty and Limerick's Cillian Fahy. Pic: INPHO/Lorcan Dohertyc

Allianz FL Division 2: Derry 0-16, Limerick 0-4

Rory Gallagher says he never doubted his Glen contingent would be available for Derry's opening Division 2 victory over Limerick on Saturday.

The Ulster champions cruised to a comfortable 0-16 to 0-4 victory over a disappointing Limerick side without ever having to hit top gear in a game where most of the pre-match build-up had focused on the availability of Conor Glass, Ethan Doherty and Conleth McGuckian.

Both Glass and Doherty started and played starring roles at Owenbeg as the home side dominated from start to finish with Gallagher almost bemused at the media focus surrounding his team selection for their league opener.

"Why?" was his terse response when asked if he was ever in any doubt the Glen players would be available, "I just think that kind of talk is loose. I don’t buy it. They have incredible mental strength. There may be others that don’t have that mental strength, but those two boys have.

"A long time ago we had a conversation with the Slaughtneil boys if they were going to have a break. We have defined break periods, well established. We haven’t even had a conversation about it in the last number of weeks.

"I know their mentality and I know they love playing football. Conor was outstanding given that he hadn’t even trained. They were at training on Wednesday night and we didn’t get them to do anything."

While the ongoing controversy of the All Ireland senior club final has been a distraction for many, it doesn't appear to have had any negative impact on the Oak Leaf squad who picked up the points with a minimum of fuss.

While Derry were never at their best against the Treaty County, they never had to be with Shane McGuigan turning in a superb individual display that yielded nine points.

"You love to win, maybe building the scores a bit more easier than we did, but Limerick changed tact from the McGrath Cup which we expected," he added. "They went very defensive. There was a bit of over-eagerness from ourselves and bad finishing. We won by 12 points and I don’t think Limerick had any over ambition to win the game.

"I would be happy, to a large degree, it was good to get Conor and Ethan back in. They hadn’t played much. We got Niall Loughlin back on the pitch. We were going to put Shea (Downey) on, but we didn’t and put Paudie (Cassidy) back on again. From that point of view our bodies are coming right but it is going to be hot and heavy for the rest of the league."

For Limerick boss Ray Dempsey, it is a tough learning curve for a team coming out of Division 3.

"It was a really tough game," explained the former Meath star, "Derry are playing at a serious level, perhaps the form team in Ireland, won the McKenna Cup there against Tyrone who were All Ireland champions just two years ago. It is what it is. In Limerick we are just happy to be playing at this level.  

"This is a big step up from Division 3 and you are going to have to play it before you learn. You can talk about it and you can look at it but until you are out there in the heat of battle you won't appreciate how intense and how quickly you can be closed down, how quick things have to be done with the ball and how quick it has to be moved.

"I thought the lads kept tackling, I thought there was big heart and guts in them and they kept battling away to the bitter end."

Scorers for Derry: S McGuigan (0-9, 4f, 1m), N Toner (0-4, 2f), P Cassidy (0-2), L Murray (0-1)

Scorers for Limerick: A Enright (0-1), J Naughton (free), G Browne (0-1), I Corbett (0-1 each) 

DERRY: O Lynch, C McKaigue, E McEvoy, C McCluskey, P McGrogan, G McKinless, C Doherty, C Glass, B Rogers, N Toner, P Cassidy, E Doherty, B Heron, S McGuigan, L Murray. 

Subs: P Cassidy for G McKinless (50), O McWilliams for E Doherty (53), N Loughlin for B Heron (53), N O'Donnell for C Glass (68), B McCarron for L Murray (70).

LIMERICK: D O'Sullivan, D Connelly, S O'Dea, B Coleman, B Fanny, C Fahy, M Donovan, C Sheehan, I Corbett, P Maher, J Naughton, G Browne, A Enright, C Downes, D Lyons. 

Subs: R Bourke for B Fanning (HT); H Bourke for D Lyons (50), C McSweeney for B Coleman (56); P Nash for A Enright (64), K Ryan for C Downes (68)

Black Card: P Maher, 61mins;

Referee: Niall Mooney (Cavan)

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