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Gilligan backs Derry resurgence

National Football League Division three

Derry v Tipperary

Sunday, Celtic Park, 1pm

Former Derry forward Conleith Gilligan believes that Derry are moving in the right direction despite last weekend’s two-point defeat to Down.

The Oak Leafers, who were second favourites to win the league at the start of the campaign have a single point to their name. Their hopes of promotion are slipping away and they need a win against Tipperary to get back on track.

It is a massive game for both teams. In patches, Derry played really well in patches. Shane McGuigan was excellent but they couldn’t get enough of the ball to him.”

The problem for Derry was their shooting. They hit eight wides on a night when two defences did their best to nullify each other.

Gilligan suggested that perhaps Derry’s attack is developing.

Ryan Bell and Christopher Bradley didn’t start but they came on. I thought that Ryan should start as he is a great target man. His size means that he could take an offensive mark. Shane needs a big man to play alongside him like Ryan and if they had Christopher Bradley, who can pick a pass, sending ball in, then they could unlock the defence with the attacking marks.”

Attacking marks did have a part to play in the game, as Gilligan noticed. Jerome Johnston and Donal O’Hare took two clever marks inside of the 45s, and those led to the two scores that separated the game at the finish.

Gilligan felt that had Derry been as cute they could have reaped the rewards from the attacking mark.

He said that there is plenty of potential.

Padraig Cassidy did well but he is only coming back. Karl McKaigue still has to come back, and when he does that will free Liam McGoldrick up to be played further out the field instead of in defence.

It is going to take time.

Derry needed to hit the ground running because there is so much at stake.”

What is at stake is a place in the promotion to division two, and with that a place in the All-Ireland championship tier one.

Derry are just two points behind the three teams who are in joint second place, and as one of them is Tipperary, Rory Gallagher’s team can get themselves back on track.

Gilligan thinks Gallagher can get a result this weekend.

There was an improvement from the Leitrim game. The problem is that Derry can’t afford to lose any more games. Down can afford to lose, but Derry have to win all their games now.”

But they could realistically do that. Gilligan believes that they players are there to get the results.

I thought Odhran Lynch had a good game. I think they could probably get more out of Brendan Rogers there is more from him to come.

I think that they could get more from Ryan Bell if they play him inside and have Emmett Bradley and Christopher Bradley playing ball in to him. Ryan has great physical presence. He will give them the opportunity to kick the ball in.”

So facing into this weekend’s game, Gilligan felt that with time this Derry team will come together and come good.

The unfortunate thing is, that they don’t have a lot of time. They have to get a win against Tipperary this weekend or their hopes of promotion are gone.

Gilligan, who coached the Kilcoo team to Ulster glory last year, said that he thinks that Rory Gallagher has the right idea about his team.

I heard Rory Gallagher talk about team chemistry. He said that teams need to be playing together for a while to get that chemistry. If you take Down, they are a lot further on than Derry and that was perhaps the difference.”

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