Donegal force Derry to pull out all the stops
Christy Ring Cup Group One: Derry 0-20 Donegal 1-14
DERRY survived a real scare thanks to a flurry of late scores in order to overcome Donegal and remain on track for a Christy Ring Cup semi-final spot.
The visitors held a deserved 1-12 to 0-7 lead at the break, the major coming from Dylan Duffy, but in the second half the Oak Leafers rallied, with Cormac O'Doherty and Brian Og McGilligan influential, and Donegal shot themselves out of the game.
"We were very disappointed in ourselves at half-time,'' admitted Derry manager John McEvoy.
"We felt that we didn't do ourselves justice at all. Workrate is our benchmark and in that first half we just didn't front up.
"Donegal were first to most balls, so we made a few changes at half-time, and while I wouldn't say they made the complete difference, I think what did was that we decided to put in a shift second half.”
After a dire first half performance, there can be no doubt that a few harsh words were said in order to spur the men in red and white into action, the introduction of the Kevin Lynch's duo John Mullan and Odhran McKeever proving pivotal.
“There might have been, there might have been. I don't know the effect that it has sometimes, I think the lads took charge We have massive respect for the players, and I have just said in the huddle out there, every day we go out we have to go out and start from minute one.
“We can't just be leaving it until the second half, but they know themselves, they players are very honest. They are an honest group, but I have said that from day one and I was delighted with how they finished the game.”
Before a ball was pucked this was said to be a routine win for Derry but the Donegal men clearly had not read the script. This result, coupled with Down's shock win over Wicklow in Aughrim, means that Derry will still require a result to advance when Wicklow come north in two weeks' time, but McEvoy was keen to emphasise just how competitive this competition is.
"It doesn't get the same coverage as other competitions, the Liam McCarthy or McDonagh, but it is ferocious. Wicklow and Donegal last weekend, there was two or three points in it. Donegal were winning with three minutes to go and Wicklow scored a goal that changed the game.
"We got a comprehensive win last weekend, but all these games are going to be close. They were in the League, just look at those results, it is the same.
"It is wide open. Am I surprised by that? I probably am if I'm being honest, but I don't think Down did themselves justice last weekend and Wicklow will give us a massive battle in two week's time. The league final in particular was disappointing but today will stand us in good stead for that Wicklow game.”
Derry: S Kelly; P Kelly, S Cassidy, R McCartney; L Hinphey (0-1), M McGrath, T Brady; M McGuigan, B McGilligan (0-3); P Cleary (0-2), R Mullan (0-1), G Bradley (0-2); T McCloskey, S McGuigan (0-1), C O'Doherty (0-7 4f).
(Subs) O McKeever (0-1) for T McCloskey; HT; J Mullan (0-1) for T Brady, HT; D McCloskey for R McCartney, 49mins; D Cartin for P Kelly, 66mins;
Donegal: P Burns; C Parke, C McDermott, S Gillespie; J O'Loughlin (0-1), S McVeigh, C Flood; J Boyle (0-3), D Cullen (0-7 6f); R McDermott (0-2), C Mathewson (0-1), C Finn; G Browne, N Cleary, D Duffy (1-0).
(Subs) P Hannigan for Colm Flood, 45mins; R Hilferty for G Browne, 61mins; P McCarron for N Cleary, 73mins
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)