Harte not yet checked into final spot

By Michael McMullan

IT’S hard to imagine anything other than Derry taking on Dublin in the league final later this month, but Mickey Harte’s focus remains on their final game this weekend.

Should Roscommon cause a shock at Celtic Park on Sunday, expected wins for Dublin and Kerry would leave three teams on 10 points and score difference come into play.

Derry (+25), Dublin (+28) and Kerry (+9) is the lay of the land before a ball is kicked on Sunday.

“It can change very quickly,” commented Derry manager Mickey Harte after Sunday’s game in Mayo.

“You can’t say we are signed and sealed in the final but we are in a strong position to get there so we’ll have to wait.”

For their part, Roscommon need to win and hope Galway can turn over Kerry to give them a chance to avoid joining Monaghan in Division Two next season.

A sub-plot is the baggage from Derry’s draw with Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park two years ago. Shane McGuigan was sent off in the closing stages and was handed a suspension after linesman David Gough – this weekend’s referee – reported him for comments made.

McGuigan missed the Galway visit a week later, a game Derry lost as the wheels came off their promotion bandwagon. The shoe is on the other foot on Sunday with Mickey Harte’s side having their destiny in their own hands.

After their defeat to Dublin, an almost full-strength Derry bounced back with victory in Castlebar.

Derry were in control after goals from McGuigan and Conor McCluskey helped them go nine points ahead.

Mayo threw off the shackles and a more direct approach led to a Paul Towey goal and two other chances

“You can’t replicate that on the training field, you have to live it,” Harte said of the frantic final quarter

“Our players today experienced that and have to hand it to them, when that situation arises on the field; there is not much you can do from the sideline.

“The players have to deal with it and the players have to have the character to overcome the adversity and work their way out of difficult situations. They did that very well.”

It took Paul Cassidy, Eoin McEvoy, Ciaran McFaul and Ethan Doherty to show for kick-outs to give Derry a chance to wade through the less choppy waters of their assured finish.

“A number of players presented well for these balls and Odhrán Lynch gave it to them,” Harte said of their promising finish.

“There are lots of things to learn, we learned plenty about the players and they learned plenty about themselves.

“It is good to get the result and not to have to feel hurt about losing a big lead.”

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