"You go out on the field feeling like you're invincible" - Derry players praise Rory Gallagher's management 8 months ago

"You go out on the field feeling like you're invincible" - Derry players praise Rory Gallagher's management

"There was a bit of something missing in Derry for a long time but Rory has brought us together."

The promise land, the holy grail, the dream, the whole point of playing inter-county football at all, is to win the big games, on the big stage, for the big prizes, and Derry have finally done that.

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Despite being a football obsessed county, it has been 24 years since the Oakleaf county had won an Ulster title, meaning generations of players have came and went in the red and white, only to leave empty handed.

At long last, they have a team with cohesion, bonded together by desire and ambitions to achieve something great.

The man responsible for shedding the fat off this Derry team, and unearthing the makings of champions is Rory Gallagher, the animated but driven manager.

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Many have held his position and title before, but no one has managed to do what he has done, and you only have to hear how the players talk about him to understand the impact he has had on this team.

"You always have ambitions as a young fella to win something with your county," said Brendan Rogers, who starred at full back against Monaghan in the final. 

"I'm just delighted to come out on the right end of a very tough game. Rory has been phenomenal.

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"There was a bit of something missing in Derry for a long time but Rory has brought us together. It's hard to say it's one thing but he has helped us produce the goods.

"We don't want to stop here. We want to keep building as a team. It's a launchpad but we have to remain grounded because we want to take another few steps," Rogers told the BBC.

Everyone thinks that the Fermanagh native is a master of his defensive set-up only, but people forget that he was a sharp shooting forward in his day, and he has a very clear plan for his forwards, according to his number 14 Shane McGuigan.

"Before they came in, I thought I knew what a forward was supposed to do.

"Rory always talks about the big, professional sports. Everyone attacks and defends, whether it's soccer or basketball. He definitely brought some shrewdness to our defence, but he doesn't get the credit for his attacking play.

"I thought I knew football but the way he wants you to make your runs, the freedom he gives you - you go out on the field feeling like you're invincible.

"And you saw that in some of the runs we were making like Brendan's for the goal, the cut-back from Niall Toner was magic, passing it across, unselfish too, they're the types of things Rory has brought in."

The proof is in the pudding, and although initially the appointment of Gallagher raised eyebrows and caused a few murmurs, it's hard to argue that there could be anyone better fitted for the job now.