Hurling & Camogie

Clones venue may suit Derry and Meath as they meet in All-Ireland Intermediate final replay

Derry's Dervla O’Kane shakes hands after the game with Abbye Donnelly of Meath after the drawn All-Ireland Intermediate final at Croke Park on Sunday
Derry's Dervla O’Kane shakes hands after the game with Abbye Donnelly of Meath after the drawn All-Ireland Intermediate final at Croke Park on Sunday

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate final replay: Derry v Meath (Saturday, Clones, 1pm)

SUNDAY’S Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate final was destined to go to a replay. Both Derry and Meath had taken their only titles in replayed finals, well away from the spotlight that shines brightest in Croke Park.

When I went around to the changing area to get the views of both camps on Sunday afternoon, the Meath changing room was much livelier than the Derry one – even though they had come within inches of taking the title. There was little evidence of a chance missed.

Players as well as members of the management team were available for the media to interview. They knew that they had got out of jail.

Across the corridor it was much more subdued with PJ O’Mullan taking all the questions on behalf of the Derry camp. There seemed to be a realisation that they had got themselves into a winning position and blown it.

The replay is unlikely to follow the same pattern as the drawn encounter. While Derry didn’t score for the last half hour, you almost forget that Meath also failed to raise a flag between Ciara Foley’s goal after five minutes and Abbye Donnelly’s point in the 37th minute.

There won’t be the same periods of drought in the replay as both teams set out to better their Croke Park efforts.

Read more:

  • Derry boss O'Mullan: We were hanging on at the end
  • Derry camogs still in with a chance of All-Ireland intermediate success after draw with Meath at Croke Park
  • “Reset and go again” says Meath goalscorer after drawn final with Derry

Meath’s danger player is midfielder Aoife Minogue whose scorching runs down the centre opened up goal chances. Despite Derry having Rachel McAllister back around the middle while Dervla O’Kane dropped into defence, there was still a gap that Minogue exploited.

Olivia O’Halloran’s pace caused some problems on the wing during the early part of the game and the high delivery to the edge of the goal area was also a cause for some concern.

However, overall the Oak Leaf defence played fairly well. Had the referee not pulled them up harshly on a few occasions in the second half, the team might well have got going again with a couple of scores.

The problems seemed to arise in the Derry attack and the diagonal crossfield deliveries of the first half dried up for more lateral passes that Maeve Clince just gobbled up.

The efforts of the first half also seemed to take their toll later in the game with some tired striking and inability to chase down ball. They also couldn’t win a free in a scoring position. Normally Áine McAllister and Aoife Shaw pick up a good few points from placed balls.

Because Derry pull a player back to midfield it means that ball must be played wider to avoid the loose defender and give their forwards a better chance of taking possession.

That worked well in the opening half, but the two causing the most problems during that period, Aoife Shaw and Máiréad McNicholl, couldn’t get on to ball after the break.

In the semi-final, Derry ended up with 21 scores. In Croke Park that stat was down to just 10, nine of which came in the first half. They only had a handful of wides as well and a few efforts dropped short.

Meath had more wides, including six from frees, but created more openings that might have ended in goals.

I think both teams will perform better away from Croke Park, but Derry will hope that they can marshal their supporters to travel to Clones to get behind the team and make it count at a smaller venue.

They will need all the encouragement they can muster because Meath have proven that they will not lie down. As was expected prior to Croke Park, the game is likely to go down to the wire and the team that has learned most from the drawn encounter will pick up their second title.