Hurling & Camogie

Derry not taking Wicklow for granted in top versus bottom clash

The Oak Leaf hurlers have a 100 per cent record in their Division 2B campaign to date

Derry manager Johnny McGarvey
Derry manager Johnny McGarvey Derry manager Johnny McGarvey

Allianz Hurling League Division 2B, round four

Wicklow v Derry (Sunday, 1pm)

DERRY are taking nothing for granted says manager Johnny McGarvey as they make the long trip to Wicklow this weekend and continue their push for promotion.

It’s top against bottom in Division 2B and Derry will put their unbeaten record on the line.

Following three victories on the trot over Tyrone, Donegal, and London, the Oak Leaf county currently sit at the top of the pile with six-points, while Wicklow have only one point to their name thanks to a 1-15 to 2-12 draw with Roscommon in their last outing.

Derry may well be short some of their regulars when they line out in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon as their U20s take on Antrim on Saturday in the Ulster U20 league final at Corrigan Park, and their availability for the seniors has yet to be decided.

Three U20s – Aimon Duffin, Ruairi O’Mianain and James Friel – have started all of Derry’s Division 2B clashes and may not make the journey south. Corey O’Reilly will also miss out this weekend, while Paddy Kelly is currently carrying an injury.

“They’ve been in the team, and they’ve been playing really, really well,” said McGarvey of the U20s.

“They’re fully in the team on merit and those three, along with Corey, that’s four players that have started all the matches out of the team.

“You want to be careful and we’re not underestimating Wicklow in any way. That’s four changes to a team that has been fairly settled so we just want to make sure that we’re well prepared for this one.”

Promotion is well within Derry’s grasp and one win from their remaining two fixtures, against Wicklow and Roscommon, will secure their place at the top of the Division 2B table and a league final spot.

McGarvey’s side suffered relegation from Division 2A last season and are determined to bounce right back up at the first time of asking but he insists that dangling carrot won’t impact on their preparations.

“It makes no difference preparation wise whether it’s Wicklow or Tyrone or Kildare come the Christy Ring, we’ll be preparing the exact same way. We’re very much setting up to make sure that everything we do is the exact same for every match.

“We’re happy enough that if we can find a level of consistency and we’re playing where we want to be playing, we’re fairly confident that we’re a really good team and we’ll get results and we’ve really good players.

“But it’s trying to find that level of consistency over the course of a season as opposed to five and 10 minute spells in matches. We’ve worked hard to put ourselves in the position that two more points will guarantee our place in the League final.

“We make no bones about it; we want to win the League. I can imagine the longer you’re in the League the harder it becomes to get out, so we set our stall out very early this year to go and get promoted. That’s still the goal and that’s still the focus.”