Hurling & Camogie

Derry need to be at their best to deliver against Kildare

The Oak Leaf side were well beaten by the Lilywhites in the round-robin series

Derry manager Johnny McGarvey was frustrated by his team's first-half displays as they narrowly lost to Meath in the Christy Ring Cup final on Saturday Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Derry manager Johnny McGarvey. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Christy Ring Cup final

Kildare v Derry (Sunday, Croke Park, 4.15pm, live on Sport TG4)

OF the 11 games that Derry have played this season in League and Championship, Sunday’s Christy Ring Cup final opponents Kildare are the only team to have gotten the better of Johnny McGarvey’s side.

The Oak Leaf county drew with Wicklow away from home, 0-18 apiece, in round four but still finished top of the pile and saw off Tyrone by six points in the Division 2B decider.

They carried that winning mentality and momentum into the Christy Ring Cup, seeing off both Wicklow and Tyrone in the opening two rounds, before an away day trip to Kildare halted their unbeaten streak.

Two Jack Sheridan goals either side of the half-time interval helped Kildare to victory and the Lilywhites held a commanding 1-12 to 0-6 lead at the break, before Derry fired back to close the gap in the second period.

Derry’s second-half performance didn’t make up for the ground they’d lost in the first, but if anything, it proved that they can match and perhaps even better Kildare, who competed in Division 2A throughout the League.

Motivation won’t be in short supply in the Derry changing room as they’re hoping to collect the Christy Ring Cup for the first time ever, having failed at the final hurdle on three previous attempts, the most recent of which was just 12 months ago.

A late rally from the Ulster men brought them to within touching distance of eventual winners Meath, but in truth, the Royals dominated for the majority of the contest and deserved to come out on top.

A large contingent of the side that left Croke Park empty-handed last season will be back to try and right those wrongs tomorrow, and Derry certainly have the quality in their ranks to push Kildare all the way.

Cormac O’Doherty and Ruairi O’Mianain are two deadly sharp-shooters; Sean Cassidy and James Friel add real power from the back; Meehaul McGrath is a commanding figure at centrefield, while Oisin O’Doherty has kept three clean sheets in five Championship games.

O’Doherty will have to be at his best as Kildare have netted in all five of their Christy Ring Cup encounters, striking the net at least twice in every game. Sheridan has been to the fore throughout, top-scoring with 3-30.

David Qualter has hit form at just the right time, and he rattled off an impressive 1-14 in the last three games. His accuracy from frees will demand the highest quality of discipline from the Derry defence.

History is also on Kildare’s side as this is an occasion they’ve grown quite used to over the past number of seasons. Sunday will be a third Christy Ring Cup final appearance in five years, and they’ve won the other two.

In fact, they’re at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to Christy Ring Cup success, having tasted victory in four of their five deciders.

Kildare seem to hold all the aces, but Derry will be determined to upset the odds and will have to be at their best to do so.