Derry's Christy Ring status in danger after defeat to Wicklow
Christy Ring relegation play-off: Derry 0-15 Wicklow 2-22
DERRY’S continued participation in the Christy Ring Cup will be decided in a play-off with either Mayo or Armagh following Saturday’s disappointing defeat to Wicklow.
Played in front of fewer than 50 spectators in Newry’s Pairc Esler, the Oak Leaf county’s fall from grace of the second tier of All-Ireland hurling looked almost complete as they trailed Wicklow by seven points at the break.
But Derry discovered that bright spark and will to win, which was missing in the in the opening half, to blitz their Wicklow opponents in the third quarter.
They displayed fire in their belly and with Ruairi Convery (0-7) and Mark McGuigan carrying a scoring threat they overturned that seven points deficit to actually take the lead with eight unanswered points.
But having been so far gone in the first half to lead by 0-13 to 0-12 with 47 minutes gone Derry seemed to get a nose bleed as they simply stopped and failed to score for another 18 minutes, by which time Wicklow had hammered home victory with an unanswered 2-08.
Derry didn’t just run out of steam but were also bereft of ideas as Wicklow put them to the sword twice during the 70 minutes.
It has been a difficult year for Derry, following the retirements of the talented Hinphey brothers Liam Og and Kevin, as well as lynchpin Ruairi McCloskey calling it a day at the start of the season, so a period of readjustment was always on the cards.
Players of that quality are not easily replaced and Derry face a realistic prospect of playing Nicky Rackard hurling next season.
Wicklow showed their intent early on with four points in as many minutes with Christy Moorhouse scoring his first of an impressive personal tally of 1-12.
Diarmuid Masterson, Danny Staunton and Paddy Doran added to the Wicklow tally, with Derry’s Johnny O’Dwyer pointing.
Tipperary referee John O’Brien seemed to interpret the rules in Wicklow’s favour throughout, with an example being when Mark Mehaul McGrath received a yellow card after Ronan Keddy squared up to him, but there was no card produced.
Oisin McCloskey was denied a goal early on, with Wicklow keeper Daniel O’Neill saving at the near post, but Convery doubled Derry’s tally with a converted free.
Tommy Storey, Masterson, Staunton and Moorhouse stretched Wicklow’s lead but Derry added another three points with McConvery pointing either side of McGuigan’s point, including a wonderful 75-metre conversion.
A different Derry returned for the second half and all guns blazing they cut Wicklow’s lead with Convery, Oisin McCloskey and McGuigan the main architects of the Oak Leaf revival.
Wicklow were shocked and pinned back as Convery received a pass from Shane Farren, took a shoulder barge from Stephen Kelly before drilling over the bar to level the score at 0-12 each.
Derry’s tails were up and McGuigan edged the Ulstermen ahead but 0-13 proved unlucky as the Oak Leafers were stuck on that tally and Wicklow went to town.
Two quick points from Moorhouse swung the game back in Wicklow’s favour before Staunton rattled the net but only after Derry keeper Darryl McDermott pulled off a full-stretch initial save.
And Moorhouse wasn’t finished as he rounded McDermott to blast in Wicklow’s second goal and they led 2-17 to 0-13 with 65 minutes played. Alan Grant and substitute Deaglan Foley popped up with late scores but Wicklow already had victory in the bag.
Derry will face the winners of Mayo and Armagh to decide their fate and going on Saturday’s performance, either team will provide formidable opponents.
Derry: D McDermott; D McCloskey, C Quinn, S McCullagh; B Quigley, C McSorley, B Og McGilligan; A Grant (0-1), T McCloskey; M McGuigan (0-4), J O’Dwyer (0-1), R Convery (0-7, 0-6 frees); G O’Kane, S Farren, O McCloskey (0-1). Subs: M McGrath for O’Kane (30), D Foley (0-1) for O’Dwyer (56). Yellow cards: M McGuigan (10), M McGrath (27), R Convery (35), Foley (58).
Wicklow: D O’Neill; L Maloney, S Kelly, C Dulachain; P Keane, J Henderson, M O’Brien; R Keddy, E Kearns; P Doran (0-1), T Storey (0-1), D Staunton (1-3); M Lee (0-2), D Masterson (0-4), C Moorhouse (1-12, 0-11 frees). Subs: A Byrne for Doran (50), E McCormick for T Storey (67). Yellow cards: D Masterson (27), J Henderson (44).
Referee: John O’Brien (Tipperary)