By Kieran Lynch
DERRY manager PJ O’Mullan says that his team haven’t hit full stride yet this season, but with championship starting this weekend, he hopes that they can peak at the right time.
The Oak Leaf County missed out on their goal of promotion from Division 2A in the league but responded well by pushing Antrim close in the Ulster Championship semi-final – losing 0-14 to 0-13.
Now, with some momentum beginning to build and players coming back into the fold after injury, O’Mullan is hoping that his team can get off to a fast start in the Intermediate Championship when they host Wexford this weekend with games with Carlow and Antrim to come.
“The game at the weekend is our only home game,” he said.
“Obviously home games are very important and we’re under no illusions that it’s a big game for us, because we want to win the first game and get on the front foot.
“We weren’t happy with our league campaign; a lot of the players felt that we didn’t perform the way that we should have.
“But we are starting to get a momentum going now. A lot of our injuries are starting to clear up and we played reasonably well against Antrim in the Ulster Championship. Truth be told, we probably should have won the game. That’s a good level because Antrim are a Division One team.
“We’re in a good place now; fingers crossed that the injuries can clear up, because we have had an injury list like the Royal Victoria Hospital.”
This is O’Mullan’s first year in charge and he admitted that it probably took some time for him and his management team to gel, but as the year has gone on, they are building towards where they want to get to.
“As a management we believe that we’ve learned a lot in the last few months,” he said.
“We had a meeting with the players after the league and we had a good discussion and reviewed what went wrong.
“But now we feel as though things are good, we’ve freshened up the squad with three or four young players and with the injuries clearing up, we should have close to a full compliment to pick from this weekend.”
For the Intermediate Championship, O’Mullan believes that Derry have to focus on their own strengths to find success, and if they can do that they will be in the mix come the latter stages of the competition.
“To be honest, in the league we probably concentrated too much on other teams; for this game, we want to just concentrate on ourselves and get our own game right,” he said.
“Hopefully we can stamp our own game-plan on it and see where it takes us.
“With it being a round robin format, our aim is to get out of the group and ideally, we want to qualify in first place.
“We believe that we have a good squad, we believe that we have a good group of girls and if they keep working at it, we believe that we can be in the mix.”
Also this weekend, Antrim host Carlow in the other group fixture in Ahoghill on Saturday.