Hurling & Camogie

Derry ‘in great shape’ for Lilywhites challenge in Christy Ring Cup

Manager Johnny McGarvey goes to Manguard Park on Saturday with a fully fit squad

Johnny McGarvey
Johnny McGarvey has already led Derry to the Allianz Hurling League Division 2B title this year, and is now looking to add the Christy Ring Cup PICTURE: MARGARET McLAUGHLIN (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

IT’S a three-way tie at the top of the Christy Ring Cup table as London, Kildare and Derry have all picked up two wins from their opening two outings.

London are ahead of the pack, leading the way narrowly on scoring difference, while Kildare and Derry will battle it out for a place in the top two when they lock horns at Manguard Park tomorrow afternoon.

The Oak Leafers have defeated Wicklow and Tyrone in the opening two rounds, while their hosts have breezed past both Sligo and Wicklow.

“Those games probably went the way most people would probably have thought they would,” said Derry boss Johnny McGarvey.

“London are a really good side, they have really good forwards and we would like to think we’re the same and Kildare are probably favourites for the Christy Ring before it even started.

“It was always, in my opinion, going to come down to the games between the three of us and that’s the way it has sort of panned out.

“Kildare have been Christy Ring champions; they’ve competed fairly well in the McDonagh Cup and probably underperformed last year.

“That’s why they’re back in the Christy Ring, I don’t think anybody expected them to come back down last year but it is what it is, if you want to win it then they are the teams that you’re going to have to beat.”

Kildare were 10-point winners when the two teams locked horns during last year’s Division 2A League campaign, with goals from Brian Byrne and Killian Aherne securing a 2-23 to 0-19 victory for the Lilywhites.

Twelve months on and McGarvey believes that encounter will have little impact this weekend.

“I think it’s too long and we have looked at it and looked at their team and there’s a few personnel changes.

“Probably the biggest thing to take from it is the amount of personnel changes in our team also from that game. I would say both teams are probably six or seven players of a change over, so I don’t think it’s of any real relevance at all.

“Outside of looking at the team itself, we haven’t watched that game back or anything like that. I think we’re in a totally different place from where we were when they came to Owenbeg.”

Travelling south perhaps leaves the challenge a slightly more difficult one, but home or away, McGarvey doesn’t see it as that much of an advantage.

“It doesn’t really bother me to be honest,” added the Lavey native. “The home advantage it doesn’t really make that much of a difference to me.”

Heading into round three, McGarvey has a full squad to call upon and no injury concerns ahead of the weekend as Derry go in search of their third victory on the bounce. “We’ve a clean bill of health and touch wood it stays like that.

“I know there’s other teams out there that are finding the turnaround very quick but we’re in great shape, our backroom team has done a great job and everyone is fit and raring to go.”

Christy Ring Cup round three

Saturday (1pm)

London v Wicklow (Ruislip)

Kildare v Derry (Manguard Park)

Sligo v Tyrone (Markiewicz Park)