For the third time this season Derry hurlers have been paired with Wicklow, Aughrim the venue tomorrow afternoon (2.30pm) for their second round meeting with the Garden County in the Christy Ring Cup competition.
They met in the National Hurling League in Aughrim when the home side emerged narrow winners, as they did when the sides met a few weeks back in the league final.
It’s a tough ask for the Oak Leaf County, scant reward for their thrilling victory over Division 2 side Down in Ballycran and Derry manager Ger Rogan will have mixed feelings when he sits down with his selectors to name the side.
Captain Kevin Hinphey was red carded against Down and will now miss this game but Mark Craig who picked up a red card after a second yellow will be eligible to play. Cormac McKenna missed the Down game through suspension but will be available this weekend.
However Anton Rafferty, who had an excellent game in defence against Down, suffered a broken collar bone in a football league game for Eoghan Rua on Sunday last and will be out of action for several weeks. To add to Derry’s woes top scoring forward Paddy Henry pulled up in training on Tuesday night and is extremely doubtful for the game.
Ruairi McCloskey missed the Down game through illness but should be fit to start against Wicklow, but there must be a doubt about Conor Quinn who has a hamstring injury.
Amidst the doom and gloom of injuries and suspensions there is one silver lining for the Derry manager. Kevin Lynch’s player Liam Hinphey, who has been out of action since his brief appearance in last year’s club senior hurling defeat to Lavey because of injury and then post-operation rehabilitation, has returned to light training in recent weeks and to full training this week.
Given the absence of several key players it’s likely that Hinphey will play at least some part in the game in Aughrim.
After the confidence boosting win over Down, and a keen desire to get a win over Wicklow, Derry will travel with plenty of confidence.