Oak Leaf hurlers can’t take their eyes off the ball says McGarvey


DERRY’S fate is in their own hands this weekend as they host Mayo at Owenbeg with a chance to reach the Christy Ring final on the line.

The Oakleaf County trail Meath and Sligo by one point in the table, but with those two sides facing off, a Derry victory would see Johnny McGarvey’s team reach the championship decider.

On paper, things should be straightforward against Mayo, as the Connacht side have lost all four of their games and have already been relegated to the Nickey Rackard with a game to spare, but McGarvey believes that Sunday’s opposition are better than their form suggests.

“We can’t take our eyes off the ball; I don’t think they’re results are a reflection of where they’re at,” he said.

“The two teams played last year where a win would have got Derry into the final, and Mayo won by eight points. For that reason alone, it will be close.

“They just haven’t been able to get over the line so far this season, but by no stretch of the imagination are we contemplating that we’re already booked into the Christy Ring final. We’re 100 per cent focused on Mayo.

“They’re a wounded animal, because they’re coming up with nothing to play for, but having the shackles off might suit them better, so we have to be better prepared than any match we have played so far.”

To put themselves in this position, Derry had to overcome a stern London test in Ruislip last Sunday, and whilst they didn’t blow London away in a 1-30 to 4-19 victory, McGarvey was delighted with the character shown by his side.

“It probably wasn’t our best hurling performance, but in terms of character, it was as good of a performance as I have seen from Derry hurling in years,” he said.

“In spells we played very well, but we also made mistakes that are very unlike us, and conceded goals that we haven’t all season.

“We made life hard for ourselves, but in terms of character and leadership, I could have no faults with the boys at all.”

After four games, Derry have two wins, a draw and a defeat, and although they’re one game away from reaching the final, McGarvey described their season as a ‘mixed bag’ to this point.

“We’re reasonably happy. I think from where we started, we would have taken where we are now,” he said.

“If we had have been offered a chance to go into the last game with it in our own hands, I think we would have taken that.

“A mixed bag is probably a fair enough way to put it – we were probably a wee bit disappointed with our performance against Meath, we felt as though we were well below par. The Sligo match was probably the best we played, and we dug out the result at the past weekend.”

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