Eamon Young can’t wait for All-Ireland series

By Michael McMullan

DERRY’S Eamon Young was a man in demand after Sunday’s minor final. Photos with family and members of Newbridge were the important memos.

The members of the St Mary’s, Magherafelt MacRory squad also huddled around to mark the school’s imprint on victory over Armagh.

Young has been here before. One of five starters from last year’s All-Ireland winning team, he has walked this road before.

“We just had a big onus on retaining Ulster and getting back into the All-Ireland series,” he calmly said in a sea of well-wishers. “Now that we have done that, it is just some feeling and we’re really happy.”

Young nicked five points on the path to the official man of the match award in a season when he again excited fans with his direct approach.

There was a different structure this season with more gaps between games.

The week-on-week schedule of 2023 was diluted but Young and his teammates took all in their stride.

“We just had to keep at it and take every game by game and just see how it came out and thankfully it came out well here,” he said after Sunday’s 0-12 to 1-7 victory over an Armagh team they beat comfortably in the group stages.

On the outside, it’s an exciting group to be a part of. Playing football on the big stage with your mates is what players dream of.

“There’s just a massive buzz,” Young said of life inside Damian McErlain’s squad. “Everyone’s just so friendly and everyone’s so tight together.

“It’s just a good feeling and we’re very happy just to get over the line here again and move on to the All-Ireland series.”

With an All-Ireland quarter-final coming around the corner, Young and his side are just hoping to get as deep into the summer as they can. With two Ulster titles and an All-Ireland in the bank, he is well placed to know the main ingredients of Derry’s success.

He thinks for a second before giving his answer. The words come with the same symmetry his football does.

“It’s just hard work,” he said. “We’re always on. We’re never getting outworked by any team and we just had to keep that up today.

“Armagh put a big fight up to us today and we almost lost it there at the end but we’re just very happy to get the result.”

With the Orchard County defending deep and hitting Derry on the break, it was a game of both patience and control. And in the success comes relief.

This weekend, the county senior footballers take on Armagh. Over the past two years, while the minors were progressing, Derry seniors won back-to-back Ulster titles. There was the penalty shootout win over Dublin in the league final.

“It’s a great feeling,” Young said when asked what it was like to be a minor footballer when the county seniors were back challenging for silverware.

“You’re looking to be like them and you’re looking to be with them so to be up there and seeing them working hard and seeing us doing the same thing is great. Hopefully I’ll be up with them, that’s the goal anyways.

“We’ll get back on the training pitch this week and get ready for Dublin. Hopefully we can just progress from there but we will have to take it game by game and see where it goes.”

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