By Michael McMullan
DERRY assistant manager Ciaran Meenagh isn’t expecting eight-time All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton to dislodge David O’Hanlon ahead of Sunday’s Division Two league final.
The 41-year-old made a surprise return to ease a goalkeeping injury crisis in Dessie Farrell’s squad, news that filtered into the Derry camp before their draw with Cork.
“We’d hear nothing usually before games, but we were not as tuned in on Sunday and when somebody said it, we thought it was a bit of a joke,” said Meenagh, speaking at Monday’s Ulster Championship launch in Armagh ahead of Derry’s Anglo Celt Cup defence.
A photo on OurGame.ie shows Cluxton signing autographs at a challenge game he started for Dublin’s second string against a Meath development side earlier this week but Meenagh is not expecting Farrell to call the former skipper in for Sunday’s Croke Park clash.
Dublin have failed to keep a clean sheet since their league opener over Kildare, but goalkeeper O’Hanlon, who has played in all seven league games this season, has impressed Meenagh from Derry’s research into Sunday’s opponents.
“We have obviously looked at Dublin in a fair bit of depth coming into their league game (in Celtic Park) and we’ll look at them in the last two games,” Meenagh said.
“He is a good ‘keeper, a great addition to them. He is almost a young ‘keeper in the mould of Stephen Cluxton in his mentality, in terms of his composure and he tends to make the right decisions.”
O’Hanlon played against Derry in the All-Ireland Minor semi-final of 2017 and has taken his opportunity this season after Evan Comerford’s injury.
It was the Na Fianna man’s kicking to his left flank that gave Dublin the platform to hurt Derry in the first half of last month’s crucial league clash and dominated much of the Oakleafers’ half-time rethink that changed the game.
“His medium range kicking was excellent,” Meenagh stated. “He has length on his kick, but the most difficult kick – those mediums – hurt us in particular in the first half.
“We had prepared for him and we were really impressed with him. Looking back and looking at it after, Stephen Cluxton will do well to dislodge him as Dublin ‘keeper.”