MATCH PREVIEW: Derry face a tough assignment out West

All-Ireland SFC preliminary quarter-final
Mayo v Derry
Saturday, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 6.30pm

By Michael McMullan

THE championship fire was stoked for Derry on Monday morning when they were pitted with Mayo.

Emmett Bradley’s goal broke Westmeath’s resistance last weekend in Newry. It was a must-win game against a team promoted from the league’s third tier.

Now it gets real for Derry. It’s a must win game against a team seconds away from beating Dublin for a second time this season.

“I feel like it is a good draw for us,” Bradley said at Tuesday’s All-Ireland Championship on home turf at his club in Glen.

“I believe that in any competition, you are going to have to beat the best teams to get to where you want to be. Mayo are definitely up there as one of the top teams.”

Their win over Westmeath ended a losing streak that included heavy home defeats at the hands of Armagh and Donegal.

It was two runs from Diarmuid Baker that made goals for Bradley and Conor McCluskey.

Ciaran McFaul’s use of the ball was important. Conor Glass dropping deeper behind midfield was a help. Two Eunan Mulholland points were vital. Donncha Gilmore kept tabs on Sam McCartan.

There will be a selection conundrum with Gareth McKinless now available after suspension.

Niall Toner sat out last weekend’s win and faces a race against time after Harte said – on Saturday – “five or six days” would leave him back in contention.

The game appears to have come too soon for Niall Loughlin. He was going through a separate warm-up with strength and conditioning coach Sean Quinn last Saturday in Newry with Harte indicating a “week or two” would leave him close to a return. Castlebar doesn’t fall inside that window.

Conor Doherty has been struggling with injury since being forced out of their league win over Galway back in February.

The Newbridge man – along with Ballinascreen defender Marty Bradley – didn’t take any part in the warm-up last weekend to add woe to Derry’s selection headaches.

If the league win over Mayo is anything to go by, Saturday could be a helter skelter game. Derry had it won until Paul Towey’s goal pulled Mayo back before the Oaks pushed on to win the game a second time.

“It’s always good to have experience and evidence of it,” Bradley said of any link to Saturday’s rematch.

“At the end of the day, there’s a huge difference between league and championship. We’ve seen over the last number of years the type of performances that Mayo can produce in championship.

“We’ve seen what they were capable of last week. They probably should have got the result against Dublin and they probably should have seen that out.”

Derry’s tactics will be interesting this weekend. Mayo’s direct game is what got them back into the league encounter. That chaos has served them well.

For the early stages of their win over Westmeath, when it was nip and tuck, Derry had pushed forward to flood the attacking third.

For spells, Ronan O’Toole was left one on one with Conor McCluskey. Odhrán Lynch wasn’t as advanced but Derry were still dealing in danger.

Their approach needed squeaky clean use of possession. Bradley and Donncha Gilmore made turnovers the times they looked vulnerable. Eventually, Glass became their sitter behind midfield.

At one point, they needed a smart save from Lynch when Jamie Gonoud found James Dolan behind the cover. The angle favoured Derry but it was a warning shot.

Mayo’s performance against Dublin will have taken away any grain of doubt about what this weekend is all about. This is their year in 70 minutes out West.

Speaking after Saturday’s win, Harte felt it would do Derry “some good” in terms of confidence.

Within a week, they are parked in the same corner. Knock-out football is the six inches in front of their face.

“We’ll be out to play a game where it’s winner takes all,” Harte said. “If you win it, you can say yes, the confidence of this week was great, but if we don’t win that game then you might say it didn’t fix the confidence issue.That’s all to be answered yet.”

Saturday is the current league champions against the 2023 model who are beginning to come to the boil. Croke Park is the prize. The conundrum for Derry is simple. They need to find the heights of dancing with Dublin during those spells of supremacy in the league final. If not, then their All-Ireland dreams will fizzle out.

Check out this week’s preview show with Sleacht Néill manager Mark Doran as we look ahead to the All-Ireland SFC and Tailteann Cup games.


Mayo 2-13 Derry 3-15 – 2024 NFL
DERRY returned to the top of the Division One table after a dramatic victory over Mayo in Castlebar.
The Oakleafers looked set to cruise to a comfortable win when they led by nine points midway through the second half, but Mayo came roaring back with a Paul Towey goal, closing the gap to two points.
Derry hit four points in the final 10 minutes to see them over the line.

Mayo: C Reape (0-2,1f, 1 45); A McDonnell (0-1), R Brickenden, S Callinan (0-1); D McHugh, S Coen, E Hession; J Carney (0-1), M Ruane; B Tuohy, F Boland (0-1), J Flynn (1-0); A O’Shea (0-2, 1f), T Conroy (0-1), R O’Donoghue (0-3, 2f)
Subs: C Loftus for Tuohy, J Coyne for Hession, P Towey (1-1) for Boland, F Kelly for McDonnell, K Quinn for Loftus

Derry: O Lynch; C McCluskey (1-0), C McKaigue, D Baker (0-1); G McKinless (0-1), E McEvoy, P McGrogan (0-1); C Glass (0-1), B Rogers; E Doherty (0-1), C McFaul (0-1), Paul Cassidy; N Loughlin (1-0), S McGuigan (1-6, 3f), L Murray
Subs: N Toner (0-3) for Loughlin, D Gilmore for McKinless, C Murphy for Murray


2024 Mayo 2-13 Derry 3-15 – NFL
2017 Mayo 2-21 Derry 1-13 AET – SFC
2015 Derry 1-13 Mayo 2-12 – NFL
2014 Derry 2-15 Mayo 1-16 – NFL semi-final
2014 Mayo 2-12 Derry 1-7 – NFL


Derry 1-10 Cavan 0-15
Derry 0-13 Down 0-10
Armagh 2-7 Derry 0-17
Derry 0-12 Donegal 0-6
Kerry 2-8 Derry 0-15
Derry 1-12 Tyrone 0-9
Derry 3-17 Monaghan 0-13
Galway 1-11 Derry 3-10
Derry 1-11 Dublin 1-16
Mayo 2-13 Derry 3-15
Roscommon 1-9 Derry 2-19
Dublin 2-21 Derry 3-18 AET (Derry won 3-1 on penalties)
Derry 0-17 Donegal 4-11
Galway 2-14 Derry 0-15
Derry 0-15 Armagh 3-17
Derry 2-7 Westmeath 0-9

Mayo 1-8 London 0-12
Galway 0-10 Mayo 2-12
Mayo 1-12 Dublin 0-14
Kerry 0-16 Mayo 0-15
Tyrone 1-15 Mayo 1-11
Mayo 0-15 Roscommon 0-9
Mayo 2-13 Derry 3-15
Monaghan 1-14 Mayo 2-13
New York 2-6 Mayo 2-21
Roscommon 0-13 Mayo 1-15
Galway 0-16 Mayo 0-15
Mayo 0-20 Cavan 1-8
Roscommon 1-15 Mayo 2-14
Dublin 0-17 Mayo 0-17


Shane McGuigan 3-82 (52f, 2-0pen)
Paul Cassidy 1-19 (1f, 1m)
Lachlan Murray 1-14 (1m)
Conor Glass 1-14 (2m, 1 45)

Ryan O’Donoghue 2-70 (43f, 1-0pen, 2m)
Cillian O’Connor 4-14 (3-0 pen, 5f, 1m)
Fergal Boland 0-17

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