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Humble Oakleafers ready to respond - Padraig McGrogan

It may be a watching brief now for Padraig McGrogan, but the injured Derry defender is confident in his conviction that his team-mates can bounce back from their Ulster capitulation to have a major say in this season's All-Ireland race.

After back-to-back provincial titles and All-Ireland semi-final appearances in 2022 and '23, coupled with a Division 1 success back in the spring, Mickey Harte’s side had been placed high up on the Sam Maguire contenders list.

That lofty positioning was rattled though when Donegal landed in Celtic Park for their Ulster clash and tore them asunder, and things only got worse in the days after as the Newbridge player suffered an ACL injury in training.

That was then and this is now though, and the prospect of a fresh start four weeks on – and a trip to face Galway this Saturday in their All-Ireland group opener – has refocused Oakleaf minds, according to McGrogan.

"Look, any time you get a bit of a break it's good but if you hear ones talking about maybe losing the game intentionally, that's madness," McGrogan said, speaking at the Allianz Insurance launch of the All-Ireland championship.

"The way Gaelic football is, you go out to win honestly every game no matter what. You don't think about it much and you just want to win everything and beat everybody.

"The wee break has been great. We've worked on things, we've looked at the game, albeit it wasn't nice to watch back. You have to take your time and make the most of what we have now."

"You'd be daft to say you don't hear the hype," he continued.

"Everyone hears it but it's whether or not you listen to it. I don't think that's really what crept in to the result and the way we played against Donegal. I suppose maybe that result was the best way to

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