Derry minor Young delighted to secure two in-a-row

By Shaun Casey

HEADING into 2024, it was 40 years since a Derry minor team had retained their Ulster title and the county had never before in their history held onto their Electric Ireland All-Ireland crown for back-to-back campaigns, but Damian McErlain’s side has changed all that.

Two pieces of silverware wasn’t enough last year, they wanted to come back and do the clean sweep this season and that’s exactly what they dide.

The Oak Leafers ended their campaign with the Ulster League, Ulster Championship, and All-Ireland titles under their belts.

Eamon Young was one of a number of players that have back-to-back All-Ireland medals and the Newbridge teen put in a solid shift as McErlain’s side ousted Armagh with three points to spare in the end in Omagh last Sunday afternoon.

Captain, first-half goal scorer and Player of the Match James Sargent was another who played in last year’s showpiece along with Luke Grant and Ger Dillon.

Goalkeeper Jack McCloy was suspended for the 2023 decider but made up for lost time with a fine display.

“You just can’t put it into words, the first ever two in a row is some feeling and we’ll cherish it forever, like I said last year as well,” said Young after the final whistle.

“We put the work in behind the scenes at training and we all just bonded together as a group, and it is very special.

“Once you got the feeling for it last year, you just wanted to do it again and against Armagh, we just set our stall out. We didn’t play very well to be honest.

“Armagh, credit to them, they stuck to the game-plan, and it worked well for them, and we were just very lucky to get over the line and I’m very happy.”

When the Orchard County stole two points ahead after 40 minutes of action, others might have crumbled but that glimpse of adversity drove Derry on for more and they hit a purple patch that yielded 1-3 on the bounce.

Young clipped over one of the scores that helped to turn the tide and that resilience has been a constant theme of Derry’s championship. Young believes the tough tests they faced this season, and even last year, stood to them when the pressure came on.

“Even looking back to last year, the Ulster final went to penalties and we had massive games in this year’s Ulster final and the All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final going down the stretch,” added Young, who finished with 0-2 to his name.

“I don’t think Armagh had done that. They got two easy wins and I think that just helped us and provided us with more composure and resilience throughout.”

Young also hailed the influence of manager McErlain, who has guided Derry to a historic two-in-a-row.

“Damien and all the backroom staff are very good, they just have everything down to a T. They know what they’re at and credit to them, their record speaks for itself.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW