GAA Football

Damian McErlain pleased with Derry progress after Fermanagh scalp

Derry hat-trick hero Ben McCarron coolly walks away after scoring one of his three goals in the win over Fermanagh Picture by Philip Walsh
From Colm Bradley at Brewster Park

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section C: Fermanagh 2-8 Derry 3-9

DERRY manager Damian McErlain was a satisfied man after the final whistle went at Brewster Park, having seen his side produce a more-than-competent performance in their victory over Fermanagh.

The four-point margin probably flattered the home side as Derry were the better performers all over the pitch.

“Bar one goal chance I thought we were solid in defence,” said McErlain.

“Our work rate and shape was very pleasing. There is still plenty to work on but a win against a Division Two team is good for us and gives us really good momentum.”

The Derry boss is less than happy, however, with the three-day turnaround his side now faces before welcoming University of Ulster to Owenbeg on Wednesday.

His squad is already stretched, with hat-trick hero and schoolboy Ben McCarron borrowed from the U20 panel for this encounter.

“We will have injuries from this game and we now have only two days’ rest, that is absolute madness.

“That was the big advantage with playing Tyrone prior to Christmas in that we didn’t have three games in seven days,” he said, before turning his attention to McCarron’s contribution.

“A great debut. He showed the pace and athleticism and he will be a serious asset to the Under 20s this year.”

He may well be seen in the senior jersey too if he can continue the explosive play he produced against Fermanagh.

Erne boss Rory Gallagher was less than happy with some of the defending he saw from his side: “Ah, it was amateurish defending. We have almost a completely different back six or seven there than we would have had this time last year.

“But the goals from our point of view would have been particularly poor and we wouldn’t want to be that open at the back.

“But we owned the ball even at that and we only finished with 2-8.

“We should have been 2-14 or 2-15 with the amount of possession we had at kick-outs. That’s a disappointing aspect from us.”

Gallagher knows that things won’t get any easier on Wednesday night when his side travel to Healy Park to take on Tyrone.

“As McKenna Cup games go, Tyrone are normally the form team at this time of the year,’’ he added.

“We will just worry about trying to play that bit better, trying to be a wee bit more clinical with our chances.

“Defensively I thought we were so open and so poor and making mistakes.

“Look, we know we have a number of men to come in. We have Decky McCusker, we have Che [Cullen[ and Barry [Mulrone], James McMahon only came on and we have Mickey Jones to come back in. I know they will add a lot to us.”

For McErlain, however, there was a lot more to be positive about as he settles into his second year in the Derry hotseat, and he admitted to being more comfortable in the role:

“You are a lot more comfortable in your own skin, more aware of the environment and the level of competition.

“Things are going well this year but we know ourselves that we must keep building on it. Division Four is going to be a real slog and Antrim away is about as difficult a start as we could have got.”

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