By Michael McMullan
DERRY manager Johnny McGarvey was full of praise for his side and urges them to stick together after Saturday’s gut-wrenching defeat to Meath in the Christy Ring Cup final.
The Oakleafers were seven points down before they scored, trailed by ten at half time and were 13 points in arrears before a surging comeback came up short in a 1-23 to 1-21 defeat at Croke Park.
McGarvey came in at the start of the season, just three weeks before the league, after Dominic McKinley and Cormac Donnelly stepped down.
The Lavey man is yet to have a discussion with Derry GAA over his future, but Gaelic Life understands he wishes to remain at the helm.
Speaking after Saturday’s defeat, McGarvey stressed the need for a settled panel if Derry are to make progress.
Derry have used in the region of 120 players over the last decade and 18 of the 2022 squad didn’t commit for the new season for a range of reasons.
Included in the exodus were eight of the 16 players who featured in their league final win over Sligo last season.
“They all have to come back in November or December,” he said of the 2023 panel. “It can’t be a case like in years gone by. It is something we talked about whenever we got here, it can’t be like that all the time.
“It can’t be a new panel every year. It has to be this panel and add a few to it and I think they will. I think everybody bought into what we were trying to do and what we were working towards.”
McGarvey was looking ahead to scouring the club scene in preparation for the 2024 season that will begin back in Division 2B after relegation on score difference.
Four of their All-Ireland u-20 winning team are already on board and manager Ryan O’Neill backed more to join the senior ranks in years to come.
“If you are not prepared to commit, there is no point in talking about it,” McGarvey said of anyone coming into the county scene.
“We want players who want to play and the 30 there, they want to play hurling for Derry. They are an absolute credit to the county, to the clubs and their families.
“You saw the devastation in them out there, those players are an absolute credit to our county.”