By Michael McMullan
DERRY manager Ciaran Meenagh says his reaction to drawing Cork is “no different” to what it would’ve been had the Oakleafers drawn Tyrone or Mayo in Monday’s All-Ireland quarter-final draw.
Sunday’s Croke Park clash (1.45pm) is the first championship meeting of the counties since the 1993 All-Ireland final and it will precede the clash of Mayo and Dublin.
“It is something myself or the management can’t control,” Meenagh told Gaelic Life. “All we can control now is getting a feel for Cork and getting some work done on them but not too much.
“We haven’t too much time to dwell on them because the game is only coming around in a few days. We have to think mostly about the work we do on them in terms of how we prepare ourselves.”
The sides drew 1-14 each in the final game of this season’s league when Ian Maguire’s late, late goal earned a point for the home side.
Neither Meenagh or the management team were present at Cork’s win over Roscommon last weekend but had a set of eyes in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and scoured footage from all of the games.
“We probably have a better feel for Cork, or if it had been Tyrone, than if had been Mayo (in the draw) having played both the teams quite a bit over the last two years.”
The Derry boss confirmed Chrissy McKaigue’s progress is “all good” after the All-Star defender sat out their win over Clare as a precaution after a knock picked up early in the win over Donegal.
“It was seeing the bigger picture and it has worked well,” Meenagh said.
On the flipside, the news isn’t as positive in the case of Oisin McWilliams who is out for the rest of the season with a recurrence of a shin injury.
Having featured in the first nine games of the season, he was Derry’s impact man and kicked a sweet point in their win over Dublin.
McWilliams was in the 26 for the Clare game and took full part in the warmup only to break down in training days after the game.
“It’s a stress fracture to the tibia and I am very disappointed for him,” Meenagh said. “He would’ve been somebody we’d have been looking at by this stage if it had worked out.
“We pushed him and that was the risk with pushing…he would’ve been an option as an impact for us.”
Matthew Downey is still out long-term with a quad injury but there is better news on goalkeeper Ryan Scullion who “is close” to a return.
It’s Scullion’s first year on the panel and, ironically, made his only appearance in the draw with Cork this year but sustained a dislocated finger in training ahead of the Donegal game.
Former goalkeeper Thomas Mallon – a goalkeeper coach for three years under Rory Gallagher – is the only addition to the squad as a backup during Scullion’s injury.
Interview with Ciaran Meenagh in Thursday’s Gaelic Life.