By Michael McMullan
MOMENTUM is the key theme for Derry hurlers as they face into Saturday’s trip to Letterkenny.
Johnny McGarvey’s side, relegated from Division 2A last season, were winners over Tyrone on Sunday and defender Sean Cassidy echoes his manager’s preseason mantra.
“Like any game this year, the big Johnny wants us to do is to get off to a good start,” Cassidy told Gaelic Life after Sunday’s league opener.
“The leagues are all about building momentum. We are at the stage now where we have a young panel and any match we go out in, we want to win all our games, the same as another team.”
Derry were behind the eight ball for the early part of the season last year. McGarvey answered the call when the outgoing management stepped down at the eleventh hour.
He inherited a skeleton squad in Division 2A yet still almost beat relegation.
“We’ll not beat around the bush,” said Cassidy, “we didn’t want to get relegated. We want to win every game, get promoted and back up to the teams who are higher up than us.”
One of the areas of focus was building a bigger squad and Cassidy outlined the importance of having men battling for starting jerseys.
Ruairí Ó Mianáin scored 0-4 on his debut last week with Dara Mooney – another debutant – making Corey O’Reilly’s goal and finishing the second.
Derry needed them both after Tyrone cut their 0-14 to 0-1 lead to five pints with a rampant, wind-assisted, third quarter.
“Johnny told us to expect a reaction from Tyrone. They came out in the first five or ten minutes and got score after score after score,” Cassidy added.
“We had a plan, to run it and play it through the lines. I think once we got a bit of composure and scores on the board. The goals were big turning points.”
It was all about getting runners off the shoulders on the attack and getting any sort of interception to ensure a clean sheet.
“We knew that if we didn’t concede goals we’d beat them,” said Cassidy who threw his body in the firing line to thwart a piledriver bound for the net.
“There were a few last minute tackles from Paddy (Kelly), Aimon (Duffin) and the big thing was, we didn’t want to concede goals.”
Looking ahead to their meeting with Donegal, Cassidy stresses the importance of picking up a second victory.
“They (Donegal) are like ourselves, they are making good strides at club hurling and they are pushing on at county level,” he said.
“It will be another good rivalry, ourselves and Donegal. It will be another big factor and we will want to push on and we’ll want to win it.”