Enda Lynn hoping Derry can enjoy another journey through the back door
DERRY captain Enda Lynn hopes the Oak Leafs can repeat last year’s Qualifier exploits after bowing out of the Ulster Championship to rivals Tyrone on Sunday.
Just as was the case when the counties met in last year’s provincial quarter-final, the Red Hands had 11 points to spare at Celtic Park, eventually pulling away late on after Derry threatened to mount a comeback after half-time.
Damian Barton’s men were written off following last year’s Ulster exit, but bounced back impressively through the back door, defeating Louth, Meath and Cavan before succumbing to eventual All-Ireland semi-finalists Tipperary before the last eight.
Lynn cut a disappointed figure in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat, but called upon his team-mates to regroup for a tilt at the Qualifiers next month.
“The Championship isn’t over as far as I’m concerned,” said the Greenlough man.
“It would have been nice to have won the game today but, even then, you haven’t won anything – you’re just through to the next round.
“We have to knuckle down now and hopefully get a run in the back door. Last year we were only a kick of a ball from the quarter-final.
“If you get a wee run in the back door, you never know where you’ll end up.”
The Oak Leafs trailed Tyrone by five at half-time but had closed the gap to three within 10 minutes of the restart.
However, they were left to rue a couple of missed frees at crucial times, while Lynn himself opted to put the ball over the bar when Niall Loughlin was wide open and closing in on Niall Morgan’s goal.
A major then would have reduced the deficit to two, and Lynn admits they needed to be more clinical against such top level opposition.
He continued: “We knew we had to up the tempo in the second half and if we got the first couple of scores, we’d be right back in the game.
“We did that, brought it back to an 11-8 game, we had a couple of chances, a couple of frees that could’ve gone over the bar and probably should’ve gone over the bar. At the end of the day, you can’t miss anything at this level. You need to take every scoring opportunity.
“We did a lot of work to get back into it but then Tyrone kicked a couple of scores and we had to go for it from there, and we left ourselves wild bare at the back and got caught for a couple of scores.”
And in the end, when the game hung in the balance temporarily, it was the strength of the Tyrone bench that made all the difference.
Their six subs contributed seven scores in the second half, with Darren McCurry landing three from play during his 20 minute cameo as Derry were brushed aside.
“The emphasis at the start of the game was to make sure we were still in it at half-time - the players and management felt we were still in it,” added Lynn.
“We came out and gave it a good go but tired in the last 10-15 minutes. They brought on quality players from the bench, Lee Brennan and Darren McCurry and them boys… they’re clinical forwards at the end of the day, they’re not far away from starting and they want to lay down a marker as well.
“We were bleeding a lot of different players through the League but it’s a different story come the Championship.”