By Michael McMullan
DERRY take their 2023 five-game unbeaten run to Ardee on Sunday (2pm) aiming for a second league win when they take on Mickey Harte’s Louth.
The Wee County were stung by a late, late Jamie Malone winner in Ennis last weekend after leading by Ciaran Downey’s goal as the game headed down the stretch.
It’s Rory Gallagher’s 20th league game in charge of the Oakleafers and they backed up their McKenna Cup win with a comfortable home victory over Limerick last weekend.
On a day Conor Glass and Ethan Doherty played their county minutes of the year, Padraig Cassidy’s substitute appearance brought to 12 the number of players to have featured in every game this season.
Derry have been the form team this season and will be heavily fancied to come through this weekend, but Louth have inside knowledge.
Assistant manager Gavin ‘Horse’ Devlin trained Sleacht Néill for two seasons and will know the inside track on putting the clampers on Shane McGuigan, who has scored 1-26 in all competitions this season.
He will also be aware of the Ethan Doherty threat having been on the wrong end of it in the 2021 county final.
For Derry, they’ll have to deal with the threat of Sam Mulroy and his varied role in the attack could make him the responsibility of Paudi McGrogan this weekend.
Louth could be without Casey Byrne, Paul Matthews and Tommy Durnin this weekend, but it’s up to Derry to keep their own house in order and take another step on the promotion pathway.