'Why couldn't we beat anyone?' asks Derry's Brendan Rogers
WITHIN 17 seconds of the throw-in at the start of the second-half, Mark Lynch had the ball over the Meath crossbar and Derry were on the road to recovery.
When referee Paddy Neilan tossed the ball into the air, Conor McAtamney latched on to it. He surged through and fed Lynch, who kicked the fourth of his six points. From there, Derry never looked back. For young defender Brendan Rogers, that was the key moment in the 10-point swing that occurred in the second-half.
“To be honest, I don't know how you explain it. You can only try and make things work. We tried in the first-half and the whole thing fell apart, if we are honest," Rogers said.
“We couldn't get to grips with the game and, in the second-half, we did. I don't know whether we kicked another gear or not, but I think momentum has a lot to do with it. Mark Lynch and Chrissy McKaigue picked up on it at half-time. They said 'Just get momentum and you never know where it will take us'.
“I think that is what happened. Conor McAtamney set up an early point and then we won the next kick-out and scored another point straight after. That took the sting out of it [Meath's half-time lead] and five points is never impossible in any football game, especially with that breeze. I think the turning point was mental, a change in mentality.”
Cavan away on Saturday afternoon is as tough a draw as Derry could have succumbed to next, with Sligo and Clare paired on the other side of the round 3A draw. But Slaughtneil man Rogers believes the second-half display against the Royals could be enough to propel Derry’s season to previously unimaginable heights.
“We know that, of the teams left on our side of the draw, there are not the Kerrys, the Dublins, so why couldn't we beat anyone? Our only focus was getting over this game and getting a result. We will try to get another result or two and then there you are, it would be the quarter-final and you never know what could happen on a big occasion.
“If we get a few more training sessions under our belt, manage to get another win or two and confidence would be high, that's how you build momentum, but it is important to take it one game at a time. Two wins doesn't guarantee you anything.”