DERRY GAA: Focused McKaigue not ‘losing sleep’ over McKenna defeat

Enda Lynn gets the better of Mattie Donnelly before being forced off injured in extra-time. (Picture by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com)
Enda Lynn gets the better of Mattie Donnelly before being forced off injured in extra-time. (Picture by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com)

Karl McKaigue claims Derry have already turned their attention to Fermanagh and the National League as they target an immediate return to Division One.

The Slaughtneil defender said the Oak Leaf panel would not be dwelling on the extra-time Dr. McKenna Cup defeat to Tyrone and are already looking forward to the visit of Peter McGrath’s team to Owenbeg this Sunday.

“That is the goal - to try to get into a league final, which could be another fixture with Tyrone,” said McKaigue.

“That’s our main aim and we want to get through these first two weeks with two victories going into the three-week break.

“That would leave us in good stead for after the break.

(Fermanagh manager) Pete McGrath has got a very good system in place which can’t be overlooked.

“They’re very well organised and they’re utilising their players in the best possible way.

“We’re under no illusions about how tough it’s going to be next week but we’re going into the game completely confident that we’re good enough to get a win out of it.

“There’s no better way to go into that Fermanagh game than coming off that sort of game against Tyrone, even though it was a defeat and a disappointing defeat.

“The intensity it was played at will really leave us in good stead for the opening round of the League.”

McKaigue admitted the players had been frustrated by their inability to kill Saturday’s game off in normal time when they led with an extra man as the game went into injury time.

“We have only ourselves to blame, we should have seen the game out. We were up a man and it was all about ball retention at that stage but we forced it forward and dropped the ball.

“The ball came up the field and over the bar and it was in to extra-time. I suppose Tyrone had the momentum going in to extra-time as well, but we’ll lose no sleep over it.

“We had five games in the McKenna Cup and everybody had a good run but I think the panel is going to be trimmed down a bit now before the National League.”

Despite the defeat, McKaigue believe Derry’s McKenna Cup campaign leaves them well prepared for the league.

“Without a doubt. Even for a game in January, that was an incredible pace, and to go 90 minutes at that level, it’s very tough. It shows both teams and squads are in very good condition already.

“And that will improve as the year goes on, and the next one is in the National League down in Healy Park, and I’m sure it will be up a level again.”