Derry may have recorded a comfortable win over Armagh to qualify for a semi-final meeting with Down in two weeks time but manager, Ger Rogan was most definitely not happy with certain aspects of the display.
The Belfast man was frustrated at the amount of frees conceded by his troops which allowed Armagh back into the game after having marched into an early nine point advantage against the Saffrons.
“I’m disappointed to be brutally honest,” said Rogan. “We were nine points up at one stage and we should have drove on from there.
“We conceded a lot of frees. I think Armagh scored two points from play in the second half and got 1-08 from placed balls, that’s something we have to look at.
“We’re happy enough to get over it because we didn’t play as well as we can. That’s not taking anything away from Armagh, I’d give them the utmost respect, they’ve done so well, but we have to look at ourselves and focus on how we’re doing. It wasn’t a great performance, but a good performance.”
When he was asked if it had been hard to lift his players after the London defeat he responded, “No. When we played London, we were so disappointed. It wasn’t so much the match itself, it was the fact that we’d played everybody in the competition and we knew what we were capable of. The boys have come on so well through the year and that’s what made it so much harder.
“But maybe the difference in this year and previous years with Derry is maybe that the first night back after the London game, on the Thursday night, we had 29 players at training. That says a hell of a lot for them.”
Ruairi Convery was not named in the original line-up but he started the game on Sunday and Rogan was delighted with his contribution.
“We just didn’t name him (in the starting line-up),” added Rogan. “We were asked for a programme team on Monday and we’re training on Tuesday night. Ruairi, the last couple of games he hadn’t hurled well but against Armagh I thought he hurled really well and showed a lot of leadership.”
Indeed he did and right from the start!
There was a flurry of scores in the opening minutes, with Cathal Carvill putting Armagh in front on 15 seconds and Oisin McCloskey responding two minutes later.
A minute later Derry took advantage of a defensive error after Ruairi McCloskey had broken up an Armagh move and Ruairi Convery fired home the first of Derry’s four goals.
However for a while Derry failed to build on the solid start and Armagh kept tagging on scores as Derry tried to pull away.
David Carvill scored a fine point but two wonderful points from Oisin McCloskey either side of scores from David Carvill from a free and Cathal Carvill kept Derry narrowly in front, 1-03 to 0-04 12 minutes into the game.
Paddy Henry from a free when Kevin Hinphey was fouled on the ‘65’ metre line and the latter on the restart put daylight between the teams.
Keeper Oisin Doherty did well to deny John Corvan with a clearance off the line, David Carvill then widing a scoreable free.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining three points separated the sides, 1-07 to 0-07, Paul McCormick with a magnificent score from the halfway line and Ryan Gaffney then holding off a couple of strong tackles lifting the good-sized Armagh support.
Paddy Henry showed great accuracy from a free as did Shane Farren from play as Derry closed the half in style.
In the 33rd minute Liam Hinphey played a penetrating ball behind the Armagh defence and Paddy McCloskey latched onto it and crashed an unstoppable shot to the net.
David Carvill from a free and John Corvan picked off points to leave Armagh trailing 2-09 to 0-09 ahead at the break.
Within 20 seconds of the restart Derry had bagged goal number three. Paddy McCloskey powered through the centre but lost the ball as he came close to goal. However he reacted quickly by pulling on the loose ball and rocketing it low to the net.
When Kevin Hinphey added a point for 3-10 to 0-09 it really was ‘game over’, even if the play became a bit messy and Armagh showed plenty of determination to pick off points at regular intervals.
David Carvill pointed a free, Fiachra Bradley added another, with Carvill converting another free in a flurry of points that reduced the gap to seven.
Ruairi Convery pointed for Derry, Carvill on target with his third free of the half as the score became 3-11 to 0-13 after five hectic minutes.
Four minutes later Ruairi Convery got a deft flick on to a cross-field ball and that gave Armagh an impossible task when the ball nestled in the back of the net.
Still the home side displayed plenty of determination as exemplified by points from Cathal Carvill and a McCormick free for 4-12 to 0-16.
But in a scrappy and at times tetchy final quarter Paddy Henry and Paul Cleary completed Derry’s scoring, with substitute Michael Lennon grapping the final score of the game in the 67th minute.
Just before that score Conor Quinn picked up a second yellow card and was sent off.
Looking forward, the manager responded to the comment that Derry had underachieved in the past, “There’s no question about it. Antrim men will tell you that the calibre of players in Derry is top class, but that they have underachieved.
“Maybe it’s for various reasons, maybe a lack of commitment at county level or the club thing. I’m not really interested. All I know is that we have 29 lads who are committed and want to bring success to the county. They’d be the first to say they weren’t great on Sunday.”
But they still won and will now meet Down in Casement Park!
Armagh - Simon Doherty; Pauric Hughes, Ciaran Clifford, John Corvan (0-01); Kieran McKernan, Nathan Curry, Paul Gaffney; Ruairi McGrattan (1-00,), James King; David Carvill (0-06, 0-05 f) , Cathal Carvill (0-04,), Ryan Gaffney (0-01); Declan Coulter, Paul McCormick (0-03, 0-02 f), Conor Corvan; Replacements - Michael Lennon (0-01 )for David Carvill 38 mins.
Derry - Oisin O’Doherty; Sean McCullagh, Conor Quinn, Michael Warnock; Ruairi McCloskey, Liam Hinphey, Conor McSorley; Oisin McCloskey (0-03), Kevin Hinphey (0-02); Paddy Henry (0-03, 0-01 ‘65’, 0-01f) Paddy McCloskey (2-01), Alan Grant (0-01); Ruairi Convery (2-03), Brendan Quigley, Shane Farren; Replacements - Paul Cleary (0-01) for Ruairi Convery 43 mins; Brendan Quigley for Shane Farren 60 mins; Liam Craig for Paddy Henry 60 mins; John McCloskey for Conor McSorley 64 mins.
Referee - Garrett Duffy (Antrim).