Cassidy hoping for some relief from winter hurling
COME rain, hail or shine, Derry hurlers have found a way so far, but a half-decent day and a chance to show their skills in Sunday's decisive tie with Kildare wouldn't go amiss for Sean Cassidy.
The Oak Leafers came off the field in Bekan last Sunday hoping their win over Roscommon was enough to take them into the Division 2B final, but alas not.
Down's victory over Kildare up in Liatroim means that Derry must repeat the same dose for the Lilywhites this weekend, or they'll miss out despite winning four out of four so far.
Derry's score difference of +32 pales in comparison to that of both Down (+51) and Kildare (+61), meaning John McEvoy's side would miss out in the event that Kildare win and all three teams finish tied on eight points each.
Full-back Cassidy, one of half a dozen Slaughtneil players who joined up after their heartbreaking All-Ireland club semi-final loss to Ballyhale in January, wouldn't mind a bit of better weather for Sunday's clash.
“We just wanted to win games and gain momentum. We haven't played to our potential for a number of reasons, weather being the main one,” he said.
“Down was in a gale force breeze, London was in the middle of a storm, Warwickshire was the same and then Roscommon, there was hail, rain, sleet, snow everything. It hasn't been great hurling weather.
“I said to the boys though, it's not a time of year for silky hurling. If we can grind out victories and get to the league final, we'll be happy.
“We're in control of our own destiny. It's a big weekend ahead. No matter how bad we've performed so far, we need to perform now or we'll not get to the league final.”
Going back over 15 years, Derry have knocked on the door of various successes between league and Christy Ring Cup, losing finals here and there, but have no silverware to show other than two Nicky Rackard Cup successes in 2006 and 2017.
A generation of players straddled both teams but almost all have moved on now, and Cassidy believes that holding a new unit together over the next few years will be critical.
“You could count on your hand the number of boys in the current panel that were involved in winning that Nicky Rackard Cup [in 2017].
“Boys have gone on, boys have retired. Our panel at the minute is very young, the likes of wee Richie [Mullan], Tiernan [McHugh], Odhran McKeever and those boys.
“Derry's probably in a transition phase, we had a couple of competitive U21 teams and the majority of the panel is made up of those boys. Our boys are trying to create their own phase of giving whatever competition we're in a good rattle.
“Hurling wise, we probably have a stronger panel of hurlers this year and boys have brought into everything John's brought to the table.
“It's the best setup I've been involved with in my time with Derry, and talking to Mark Craig and Scoots [Alan Grant], they'd say the same.”