By Shaun Casey
HEADING into the final two rounds of the Christy Ring Cup, Derry, who have drawn one, lost one and won one, can qualify for the final if they win their remaining two games against table toppers London and bottom of the pile Mayo.
It’s all in their own hands and Derry manager Johnny McGarvey, who is in his first year in charge of his native county, insists making the decider has been the target for his side since the start of the season.
“This is what we set out to do, there’s no bones about it,” explained McGarvey. “I think everybody in the competition probably had the same idea. If you’re going into it with two games to go, and it’s in your own hands, you can’t really ask for much more than that.”
They face a difficult away trip to London on Sunday, but the Oak Leaf County will be treating it like any other away game. “It’s just another away match for us, it’s probably a bit new to a lot of our boys, myself included,” added McGarvey.
“In years gone by we probably would have had quite a few boys that would have gone to London but things are different this year. It’ll be a new experience but once we get there, it’s just another away match, a hotel and a bus and we’ll go and play the match.
“We’ll be travelling out there on Saturday afternoon, so it’ll be very much like any other away match that we have to travel for. Things will be done exactly the same way, that’s the way we’ll be approaching it.
“London’s London. When you play them over there, it’s a completely different experience than when you play them at home but it’s a massive game for both teams.
“I think mathematically, if we were to win our two matches, we’d go to the final so it’s very much in our own hands and it’s very much the same for them too.
“It’s a very important game for both teams. I think their last game is against Tyrone in Carrickmore, which would be no easy game for them either, so they’ll want to win as well.
Both teams have been racking up fairly eye-catching scores, and the two teams are the top two scores in the competition. Derry sit at the top of the scoring charts, with 7-66 recorded in three games while London have chalked up 7-59.
It could be a goals-feast and a shootout, but McGarvey is expecting an arm-wrestle. “Look at their league results, particularly their matches in London, they’re fairly good there and they lost the first day when they were away.
“I’d expect a tough game, like most of the games apart from our Sligo match which looks like a freak result.
“But this is going to be tight, and we expect the London match to go down to the wire and hopefully we’ll come out on top of it.”