Belief was the key to latest Derry win

By Michael McMullan

BELIEF was a big word in James Sargent’s vocabulary after helping his Derry side fend off a strong Kerry challenge to book a spot in Sunday week’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland final.

On a day when the Lavey youngster could’ve had goals to his name, qualification from Saturday’s battle came down to one big play at the end.

Aodhna Ó Beaglaoich kicked Kerry’s last point and there was the bare minimum between the sides when Derry ‘keeper Jack McCloy placed the ball on his tee. It was stoppage time and possession was gold.

Sargent plucked McCloy’s kick before being fouled and it was the release to ensure Derry’s spot in the decider against Armagh.

“It’s your attitude I think,” Sargent said of the final play and those key moments when a game hangs in the balance.

“It’s about wanting the ball. It’s not that you want to be the hero but you want to help out your team.

“You want to do the best you can when you know if you can win that kick out that goes a long way. I just had that self-belief and that’s probably the main thing about it.”

The pattern of the game was even until Kerry pushed four points clear on the cusp of half-time with Sargent landing a score from a 45 to narrow the gap with the last kick. For the Derry skipper, the next ball is the only one that matters.

“We had a bad first half, we weren’t up to scratch,” he admitted. “We were taking contact we shouldn’t have been and we were carrying the ball into way too many tackles.”

The interval gave Derry the chance to regroup before continuing their trend of leaving their best for the second half.

“Notoriously we’re not good starters like,” Sargent admits. “We always just come into games like that and we came into it a bit better than we usually do this time.”

One take could be that half-time came at the right time for Derry. Sargent doesn’t fully agree.

“We had our chances too, I had two goal chances myself and I think we had another one there (in the second half) as well…on another day they go in.”

Derry were level within four minutes before Kerry surged ahead and Derry needed the impact of Cody Rocks and Caomhan McNally from the bench to steer them back on track.

“I think that’s one of our strengths,” Sargent added in agreement. “We always have subs who have so many qualities.

“We have a certain player for each occasion and they can just come on and put it in a performance like Caomhan did.”


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