“You gotta roll with it, you gotta take your time, you gotta say what you say, don’t let anybody get in your way.”
The famous and very apt Oasis lyrics sprung to mind when I asked Rory Gallagher about the hype and hysteria surrounding his Derry team, as they prepare for this Saturday’s All Ireland semi-final against Galway.
You just “roll with it,” said Gallagher, adding; “there’s been hype since we beat Tyrone and it’s been growing and growing.
“We’ll just do what we’ve always done, go to training and prepare. Whatever they do in their own lives is their own business.
“I’d certainly be just encouraging the boys to not be doing anything different, just enjoy themselves but the most important thing they do, from our point of view, is that they train well, they prepare well and they commit to each other well and that’s going to stay the same fundamentals of what we’ve done all year and what we’ve done really well the last 18 months.
“Let them enjoy it with their families and their friends. It’s something every GAA community in Derry should be enjoying and their families and friends are an extension of that.”
The Derry manager sounds remarkably calm, a contrast to how he sometimes expresses himself on the sideline, something the father of three acknowledges himself;
“When you’re involved, obviously you’re on the sideline, you behave in different manner’s, and you’re ready for battle on the day.”
For all the shouting, roaring and spitting on his hands, Gallagher cuts a very different persona when speaking to him, even with such a huge game around the corner. That sesnse of calm comes with being prepared, says the 43-year-old Belleek man;
“I would’ve always been pretty relaxed. When you’re involved in the coaching and management side, when you’ve trained and prepared really well and at a very high level. Everybody can give the time and commitment, to be honest, there’s too much made of that.
“When you’ve trained in a very smart, collective fashion, you can be relaxed in your preparation. It doesn’t mean you’re not nervous and you’re not apprehensive of what’s going to come down the road but you know the group of players that you’re involved with are going to give absolutely everything.”
There’s no denying these Derry boys are playing for Gallagher. A longstanding problem in the Oak Leaf county has been their ability to get players to give it their all for the county. Club has been the priority for players for the last 20 years or more, but since Gallagher took charge he has been a breath of fresh air. His tactical astuteness is up there with the best in the country and he has found the final piece of the jigsaw it seems; togetherness.
On Derry’s way to claiming their first Ulster title in 24 years, in May this year, they beat last year’s All Ireland champions Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal. No easy route, no simple task. Also, bear in mind, that they hadn’t won an Ulster Championship match since 2015.
Now they’re one game away from an All Ireland final and only Pádraic Joyce’s Galway stands between Derry and their first All Ireland final since 1993. What some people might not know is that the two men go way back, not only on the pitch but off it too.
In the early noughties, Joyce and Gallagher worked together recruiting labour for the construction sector. The two still work in similar roles now, but in opposing corners, laughs Gallagher; “We’re slightly rivals at the minute, but sure it’s all healthy as well,” says the 3D employee.
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