Derry duo Johnston and McFaul look set to miss Wexford clash
DERRY defenders Ciarán McFaul and Kevin Johnston look certain to miss the All-Ireland SFC Qualifying Round 2B clash against Wexford on July 11.
McFaul has a broken hand while Dungiven clubman Johnston was carried off St Tiernach’s Park last Saturday evening with a knee injury and had a scan on Monday to assess the damage. The Oak Leaf camp will have their fingers crossed that Johnston hasn’t suffered a long-term injury, but he is highly unlikely to recover in time for the visit of the Model county.
McFaul will definitely miss the game. The Irish News understands the Watty Graham’s star broke his hand making a block early in the game against Donegal but didn’t realise the extent of the injury and soldiered on. He made several more gutsy blocks, ran tirelessly and scored a late point before he was black-carded in the closing stages.
“Ciarán is definitely out, his hand is in a cast,” said Derry manager Brian McIver.
“Kevin Johnston is having an MRI scan. He got hurt in a tackle that we didn’t even get a free for.”
That refereeing decision was one of a number of factors that annoyed the Derry manager last Saturday night. Every call mattered in a nip-and-tuck semi-final, but McIver also lamented his side’s inability to convert scoring opportunities at crucial times.
“We played a lot of football and I’m disappointed that we didn’t take our chances whenever they were there,” he said.
“A lot of players played really, really well and I thought that we should have come out of there with a result.”
If Derry can reproduce what they came up with in Clones, they might have too much for Wexford, but McIver says “Qualifiers have a life of their own”.
David Power’s Model men lost to Westmeath in Leinster – a result that doesn’t look so bad after Westmeath’s comeback win over Meath last Sunday – and they will travel to Celtic Park on the back of a five-point win over Down, who ran Derry very close at the Ulster quarter-final stage.
“All of the Qualifiers have a life of their own and we have to make sure that we prepare really well for Wexford,” said McIver.
“They had a good win over Down at the weekend and they’ll be coming buoyed by that and we’re coming off the back of a defeat. We know we have a lot of work to do over the next 10 days.”
While they came up short against Donegal, Derry can take a lot of positives from their performance against the reigning Ulster champions and last year’s All-Ireland finalists. McIver doesn’t expect it to be hard to rally his troops.
“I wouldn’t imagine so after that performance,” he said.
“They were given absolutely no chance by anybody and played really well. So they know that they are more than capable of lifting their game any time at all. But, the other side of it is that in backdoor games you have to focus, so we’ll be focused.”
Meanwhile, the Ulster Council has rejected media reports that there was no stretcher available at Clones last Saturday night to ferry Kevin Johnston off the pitch. Johnston went down injured but the play continued and the Derry medical team took the decision to carry him off the pitch rather than wait for a stretcher.
Ulster Council PRO John Connolly said: “There’s a stretcher at the ground and if the Derry doctor had requested a stretcher out on the pitch the Order of Malta was there operating and they’re always equipped with a stretcher.”