The outcry read like Brian McIver’s Derry had committed some huge crime against Gaelic Games.
“Dubs carry on like a wet Derry blanket’ read one headline. “Football is now in the grip of Philistines” another.
Almost every report seemed to ignore that the teams in Croke Park set up with almost identical formations.
And having watched Kerry come to Celtic Park and play with 12 men behind the ball, Mayo arrive and play with 13, the Oak Leaf supporters much have been scratching their heads as to the national outcry that greeted this display.
It was never pretty but it was never going to be a spectacle. Derry, without a number of key players - which they have been all season - were staring relegation in the face and in dire need of points.
One of the main reason the Oak Leafers have found themselves in this predicament has been a reluctance to adopt the ultra defensive systems which seem to go hand-in-hand with Division One football. And remember, not every top flight team is from Ulster.
It is an irony that was not lost on the Derry manager following Saturday’s 0-08 to 0-04 defeat.
“When we were in Dublin a year ago we were well opened up,” said Brian McIver, “This time Dublin scored eight points and two of those came in the last minute or so.
“From a defensive point of view, we did the business but look, until the GAA authorities do something to change the rules or whatever, unfortunately that’s the way a lot of games are going. Believe me, it’s not the way we want to play football.
“It’s an exhaustive effort and if you are going to play like that you really have to be scoring near enough every time you go to the other end of the field.
Until the GAA authorities do something to change the rules or whatever, unfortunately that’s the way a lot of games are going. Believe me, it’s not the way we want to play football.Derry manager, Brian McIver
“But listen both sides’ set up by and large, they nearly mirrored each other. So it was the same problem for Dublin but when their chances presented themselves they took them.”
There were no such complaints following last season’s 3-19 to 1-10 National League final for Dublin. That game had plenty of scores but was barely a contest. On Saturday, Derry left Croke Park disappointed not to have taken the two points.
After 37 first-half minutes Dublin had managed just a single point which highlights the defensive job Derry did on Jim Gavin’s team.
Ten minutes in, the sides were yet to score and the crowd’s frustrations were growing but since when does an underdog bear the brunt of criticism in such circumstances? With all their money power and resources, should the onus not have been on Dublin to breakdown an under strength Derry rather simply complaining that the Oak Leafers tried to make things difficult.
From a Derry point of view, the defensive display was sound and had Eoin Bradley been available they may have sneaked the win.
The challenge now for Derry is to find the right balance between the defensive and attacking sides. Too many times this season they have been picked off by the defensive systems that all the top teams are employing. Defensive football does not sit easy with the Derry manager but he’s not a fool and will not send his side out as cannon fodder.
Saturday’s deadlock was eventually broken by Dublin midfielder, Michael Darragh McAuley but Mark Lynch replied for Derry before Stephen Cluxton denied Benny Heron a certain goal, deflecting his low shot wide with his legs. The Ballinascreen man however converted the resulting ’45 to give Derry the lead after 15 minutes.
The Oak Leafers, who went further ahead through a James Kielt free and spurned chances before Diarmuid Connolly finally registered Dublin’s second score deep into first-half injury time.
Substitute Cormac Costello levelled within four minutes of the restart before Dean Rock put the home side ahead eight minutes later. With Dublin retaining extra numbers in defence, Derry’s counter-attacking eventually paid dividends with Enda Lynn slotting over a classy equaliser.
Level with seven minutes remaining, substitute Paddy Andrews and Connolly finally took advantage of a tiring Derry to hit the points that sent Derry into Division two for 2016.
Scorers – Dublin: D Rock 0-3 (2f), D Connolly 0-2, M MacAuley 0-1, C Costello 0-1, P Andrews 0-1.
Derry: M Lynch 0-1, B Heron 0-1 (’45), J Kielt 0-1 (f), E Lynn 0-1.
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O’Carroll, E Culligan (David Byrne 41); J Cooper, J Small, J McCaffrey; M MacAuley (B Fenton 53), T Brady (J McCarthy 41); P Flynn, D Connolly, C Kilkenny (P Andrews 51); K McManamon (C Costello h-t), D Rock, B Brogan (Davey Byrne 70).
Derry: T Mallon; O Duffy, N Holly, K Johnston; L McGoldrick (E McNicholl, 68), C McAtamney, M McIver (D McKinless 51); M Lynch, E Bradley (F Doherty 47); S McGoldrick, D Heavron, E Lynn; B Heron, E McGuckin (T O’Brien 47), J Kielt (C McFaul 47).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).