DERRY GAA: McErlain calls on county to rally behind relegated Oak Leafers

Derry manager Damian McErlain. (Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE)
Derry manager Damian McErlain. (Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE)

Damian McErlain believes every football fan in Derry has a role to play in resurrecting the fortunes of the county team after one of the most disappointing days in recent memory.

Defeat to Sligo condemned the Oak Leafers to the bottom tier of league football for next season and the shell shocked Derry manager was offering no excuses after the 3-11 to 2-12 defeat.

“Derry are conceding heavily this two or three seasons and it has been coming,” conceded McErlain, “This was just another blow to the whole county but everyone take stock and go again.

“You think you are making progress and then we see that (defending) but look, that is where Derry is at and people have to get real.

“The league doesn’t lie. That’s the one thing about the league. You have seven games to sort it all out and we didn’t do that. You are where you are. The other teams took their chances to stay in the league and we didn’t.

“We had challenges in winter in terms of the squad we had which limited the work we could do and we are still missing lads today but we are conceding heavily and conceding goals this two or three years. We have to get to the bottom of it and sort it out.”

Derry’s woes were compounded by an ankle ligament injury for Benny Heron but McErlain stressed now is not the time for self pity.

“It is a massive shock to get out of our system but we have to do that,” he added, “We have to regroup and go again and you just hope the players stick with it, show a bit of loyalty to the work that has been put in by everyone including themselves. “

“They have all worked very, very hard so there is no point just throwing the head up at this point or going back to clubs and listening to any negativity such as ‘What are you doing there with the county?’ etc.

“These boys all want to play for Derry and they will want to put this right. They will want to salvage a bit of pride in the summer and hopefully if we get ourselves sorted we might be able to do that.”

Adding to the Derry manager’s frustration is the fact Derry’s won’t take place until the May 27th Championship encounter with Donegal or Cavan.

“This week we will regroup and get organised again but it is disappointing that we don’t have a game next Sunday.

“We’ll have Easter week off with the club scene really getting into gear.

“We have a lot of thinking to do, a lot of work to do but we need the players to stick with us. We will look at the club leagues to see what else is out there but we have had three strong minor teams there in a row and that is the next wave of quality coming through as I see it. Derry have to start at this position and work from there, get it together.

“There are still strong clubs in Derry, still good players and we have to have a strong mentality about getting back to where we need to be again rather than throwing the heads up and making excuses. It takes the whole county to fall in behind us and drive the whole thing on when it is low.”