“The one thing all teams at the top end of the field have is a settled panel because most have a manager there for three, four, five years.”
The Derry Gaelic footballers face Offaly in the division three league final on Saturday and former Oak Leaf star Conleith Gilligan is delighted with the impact Rory Gallagher has made on the team.
The former Donegal and Fermanagh manager took over in Derry ahead of the 2020 season and speaking to the Irish News, Gilligan remarked how Gallagher needs to be given a platform to succeed in the long-term, in contrast to previous managers who departed after two or three seasons.
“You have to (go) back a very long time for a Derry management team to have stayed in place for more than two or three seasons,” Gilligan said. “Some of those by choice, some not.
Conleith Gilligan is a selector with Ulster club champions Kilcoo.
“Paddy Crozier won the National League (in 2008). Yes, they lost to Fermanagh in the Ulster semi-final but there was a clamour at county board level for change.
“In his first year (2006) Derry ousted Tyrone, they fell flat against Donegal but things were moving in the right direction.
“Damian Barton two years, John Brennan two years, Damian Cassidy two years, Damian McErlain two years.
Rory Gallagher was a coach on the Donegal team that won the All-Ireland in 2012.
Gilligan stated that most of the top teams don’t change managers too often, in contrast to his native county. The former Ballinderry footballer believes that a long-term manager helps keep the panel more stable.
“Managers are coming in and out and everyone has a different perspective on players so the panel changes again by five or six players,” he said.
“Rory was a popular choice amongst the players. If Derry can keep progressing then they need to hold onto him. The one thing all teams at the top end of the field have is a settled panel because most have a manager there for three, four, five years.
“Hold on to Rory, get the base and build. They’ll probably not be Ulster contenders this year but maybe next year or the year after that. They’ll be in Division Two next year and can push for Division One. Derry needs stability.”
Derry hoping to win a second league title in three seasons.
Derry won division four of the league in 2019 and would love to add a division three title to their trophy cabinet ahead of the championship.
Gallagher’s side prevailed when both teams met in the league in 2020 and also in 2018. They face the winners of Donegal and Down in the Ulster championship quarter-final.