CHRISTY RING CUP: McLean hails ‘fantastic’ Oak hurlers

Derry's Aaron Kelly tussles with Down's Michael Ennis at Owenbeg on Saturday. DER2215-123KM
Derry's Aaron Kelly tussles with Down's Michael Ennis at Owenbeg on Saturday. DER2215-123KM
  • Cleary superb with six points from play
  • Down led by one at break after very close first half
  • Christy Ring Cup final scheduled for Saturday, June 6th in Croke Park (5.30pm)
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Derry hurling manager Tom McLean hailed a fantastic team performance after the Oak Leafers secured a Christy Ring Cup Final spot thanks to Saturday’s 0-23 to 2-12 victory over Down in Owenbeg.

McLean’s team will meet Kerry this Saturday in Croke Park (throw-in 5.30pm) with the Derry manager hoping his players can secure a first Christy Ring title for the Oak Leaf county.

“It was a team effort from the keeper right the whole way up,” explained McLean, “Everybody put in a massive effort.

“I knew whenever we arrived here (at Owenbeg), just by the look of the players that there was a massive effort in them and they showed it. All year we have been ticking over and maybe we were not scoring enough but the 23 points today told the tale; they had taken off the handbrakes. We worked very hard on that aspect for the last two weeks. It was all about getting them moving and you could see their movement.

“Kerry are a massive team but we’ll enjoy the day. It’s not every day that you can take a team to Croke Park. I’m absolutely delighted, as are the players, and for the supporters who came out and all the hurling men in Derry I’m absolutely delighted.”

Paul Cleary’s superb display with six points from play was instrumental in the win, as was Ruairi Convery, but the Derry manager didn’t want to single players out and said they would be travelling to headquarters determined to give it a real go.

“Those fellas have been working hard from last November. There’s a panel of 30 there and it doesn’t matter who is on or who is not starting or has to come on, there is a great spirit among them and they got what they deserved for the effort that they put in.

“We will sit down during the week and have a look and see how we are going to go about winning the final. We will probably be going into this game as massive underdogs. We have seen what Kerry have done this past while but we’ll head to Croke Park and give it our best.”