Oak Leaf hurler’s title hopes set for acid test

By Michael McMullan

DERRY manager Johnny McGarvey said his side will face the “acid test” on Saturday with a trip to fellow Christy Ring Cup contenders Kildare.

A glance at the table suggests that two from Derry, London and Kildare – all on four points – will advance to the final.

After this weekend, Derry – last year’s beaten finalists – welcome London to Owenbeg before a final day trip to Sligo.

Derry backed their opening day win up with a facile win over Tyrone on Saturday withtheir slickest showing of the season.

“Kildare are the favourites, that’s fair enough but we’re going to go there, all guns blazing,” McGarvey said of their trip to Manguard Park.

Now in his second season as Oakleaf boss, the Lavey man is fully aware of what is coming down the tracks.

“London have cracking forwards, they’re a different animal when they come to the Christy Ring,” he said of their improvement since the league.

“There are three or four new players in there who are real good players, and then Kildare are the favourites.

“These two games (London and Kilare) are crucial. There’s three left, you’ll have to win two to get a place in the final. We’ll go to Kildare next week and worry about them.”

Derry had a change of tactic last weekend with Ruairí Ó Mianáin playing in an inside duo with Dara Mooney.

It was Ó Mianáin’s lateral movement that decommissioned Tyrone’s sweeper. It was Darragh McGilligan’s pass to Ó Mianáin that made the goal for John Mullan before half-time, a move straight from the training ground.

“We gave him (Ó Mianáin) a wee change of scenery in there, maybe he wasn’t winning enough clean ball for himself.

“Every ball went in, I think he either got it or we got something off it. No, I thought he was very, very good.”

It was a decision made ahead of the Tyrone game and McGarvey has committed it as a permanent plan. Derry have reshuffled their attack and have come up against sweepers in their games so far.

“I don’t think Kildare will,” he feels.

“It would be a totally different dynamic, so whether we play with (Ó Mianáin inside) that next week or not, we’ll wait andsee.”

The Derry boss was also full of praise for his defence that again stood tall.

“We’re only conceding 12 or 13 points,” he said. “If we go to Kildare next week and concede 14 points, we’ll win.

“I can’t see it, but our defence has been so good. We’re happy where we’re at.”


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