Hurling & Camogie

Stakes high as London look to end Derry’s Christy Ring ambitions

The winner of this clash will be well-placed to reach the final

Derry v London
Derry saw off London by six points in Owenbeg two years ago, but current form suggests today’s game could be a lot closer Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET McLAUGHLIN PICTURES / C)

Christy Ring Cup round four Derry v London (Saturday, Owenbeg, 1.30pm)

DERRY’S Christy Ring Cup aspirations come under the spotlight this afternoon with the visit of table toppers London.

The Oak Leafers ticked the first of their goals for the season in the League by winning the title and clinching a spot in the third tier next season.

With two teams advancing to the Christy Ring final and with Derry losing to Kildare in their last outing, there is semi-final feel to this afternoon’s clash.

Derry will still have Sligo to contend with but a defeat today would leave the qualification in the lap of the gods.

If the history books are anything to go by, today’s game could morph into another shoot-out.

This time last year, Derry breathed a sigh of relief at the end of a 1-30 to 4-19 win over the Exiles in a Ruislip classic.

The year before, Derry had six points to spare (3-14 to 1-14) in Owenbeg, while there was a 1-20 to 1-18 win for London in Ballinascreen in 2018 in another episode that hung on a frantic finale.

Johnny McGarvey is now in the second year of his managerial tenure. His first season yielded a final spot and the regret of giving Meath too much freedom before a late charge came up short.

Cormac O’Doherty and John Mullan have been Derry’s chief scorers but they’ve had a supporting act this season.

Dara Mooney has an eye for goal, Cahal Murray impressed on the club scene, while Corey O’Reilly has been another vital cog.

Ruairí Ó Mianáin joined after their All-Ireland U20 B campaign last year and has been used as a target man inside, with Darragh McGilligan as an excellent link player who has added to the scoring tally.

At the other side of the equation, Derry will be conscious of the London threat. They’ve scored an average of 3-24 across the group games to date, with star man Jack Goulding to the fore for Neil Rogers’ side.

Derry were winners in the Celtic Park League clash but London are a different animal come Championship time. It will take their best performance of the year to keep their hopes of a first title intact.