Hurling & Camogie

Derry hurling boss happy to win ugly against Tyrone

Oak Leafers battled to win Division 2B Final against neighbours

Derry hurlers
Derry hurlers Derry celebrate after beating Tyrone during the National Hurling League Div 2b Final played at Owenbeg on Saturday 30th March 2024. Picture Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

Derry may not have done it with the style and swagger they’re capable of, but manager Johnny McGarvey was happy to see his side win ugly.

A six points win over Tyrone owed more to dogged determination than silky skills as the Oak Leafers landed the Allianz League Division 2B title.

They survived a battling challenge from the underdogs to stage a late flourish, getting over the line with a 1-14 to 1-8 outcome at Owenbeg.

“We’re very disappointed with the way we played, I thought all-round it was a horrible game of hurling,” said McGarvey. “But it doesn’t matter, it’s about coming out on the right side of it.

“There was no control of the match, there was no real flow to it, there was a lot of frees, it just wasn’t a great game of hurling.

“But it was just about winning the match, we did that, and we’re delighted to win it.”

With promotion to the restructured Division Two already secured for both sides, a crack at silverware was an added bonus, but the Derry boss was intent on victory.

“The final was important to us. I think it would have been an anti-climax had we finished top of the group and not won. I’m absolutely delighted to win the match.”

After playing into the wind in the first half, Tyrone were level at the break, matching the favourites strike for strike as they threatened an upset.

“We didn’t see it any other way. We expected to come here and it be a real war.

“There was nothing in our opinion to suggest that it was going to be anything other than that,” said McGarvey.

But Derry got their defensive issues sorted out in the third quarter and closed off the main avenues of threat.

“Our boys just dug in, I thought that the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half, we really dug deep.

“I thought Richie Mullan controlled the match for us, he was by far the best player on the pitch.

“Maybe the first 10 minutes after half-time was where we won the match.”

And after Paddy Kelly’s 60th minute goal broke the deadlock, the Oak Leafers were able to steer a steady course to the finish line.

“When it really mattered in the last 10 minutes, we dug in, we scored the goal and we got motoring.

“I thought our defence, especially in the second half, was unbelievable.

“I think they maybe only scored three or four points in the second half, with the breeze.”

While McGarvey accepted that he has plenty of areas to work on, he’s happy to have laid solid foundations for a championship challenge in the Christy Ring Cup.

“We’d rather have that than matches where we’re winning by 20 points, as we did the last day. That’s no benefit to anybody, so look, we’re happy with where we’re at.”