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'It's nearly like the glory days of old'

Derry are into their first Ulster final since 2011.

the-derry-team-celebrate-after-the-game Derry's Man of the Match Gareth McKinless celebrates with his team-mates at the final whistle. Source: John McVitty/INPHO

DERRY STAR GARETH McKinless is relishing “a mad few weeks” in the build-up to the county’s first Ulster senior football final since 2011.

Rory Gallagher’s men powered into the decider after a 3-12 to 0-17 win over Monaghan yesterday, with Man of the Match McKinless and Benny Herron (two) scoring the all-important goals at the Athletic Grounds.

After going a decade in which they won just one Ulster Championship game, the Oak Leaf county have now gone back-to-back after massive victories over Tyrone and the Farney.

“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” McKinless told BBC afterwards. “We set out at the start of the year to get here.

gareth-mckinless-with-darren-hughes McKinless facing Darren Hughes of Monaghan. Source: John McVitty/INPHO

“When the draw came out, playing the All-Ireland champions in the first round, we knew it was going to be massive. To get over them and to play Monaghan, last year’s Ulster finalists, was always going to be tough but we got over the line, thank God. Brilliant.”

“It’s gonna be a mad few weeks,” he added. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s nearly like the glory days of old. It’s a long time coming but look, it’s just another game.

“Donegal beat us last year fair and square up in Ballybofey and we’ll be coming all guns blazing. Whoever comes hungrier on the day will come out on top, hopefully it will be us.”

McKinless also hailed the “unbelievable” Gallagher, who has now steered three different teams to Ulster finals.

“The man puts in so much effort and work. As you see from his character on the sideline, it plays in us. It pushes us on that wee bit extra on the field, and he just drives us on.”

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rory-gallagher-celebrates Gallagher was animated on the line after Derry's goals. Source: John McVitty/INPHO

Gallagher beamed afterwards: “It’s great to be in an Ulster final for these players. It’s a very privileged position for us all, to be in an Ulster final. The Derry people are very proud people and they just want to see their team doing well.

“To be honest, I haven’t even thought about Donegal. I’m confident we can push on, but I’m confident Donegal can push on too. We’ll get our heads around it this evening and tomorrow morning.”

BTL 5

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