DERRY’S HURLERS’ biggest test of the season to date will take place on Sunday when they head to the Garden County to face unbeaten joint table-toppers, Wicklow, the winner guaranteed a place in the National League final.
After the battling win over Meath last weekend, Derry manager Ger Rogan was pleased with the character shown by his players.
“It seems to me that we have to show a different side to our character every week,” he said. “There was a toughness about us on Sunday. Meath were a very physical side, a fine team, but probably the most physical side we’ve met so far. But I was happy enough that our players matched that.”
Now Derry face another test of character against a dogged Wicklow side that also showed tremendous determination to record three wins, coming from behind in the last two games at Navan and Ruislip.
Derry eventually cruised to a 3-16 to 0-15 win over a Armagh side that finished with 13 players, Derry’s Oisin McCloskey also picking up a second yellow card in the second half. Alan Grant scored the goal that gave Derry a 1-09 to 0-08 interval lead but second half goals from Ruairi Convery 1-05 and Paddy McCloskey propelled Derry to an easy win.
In Kildare there was a sensational comeback as Derry came from 12 points down to defeat the ‘Lily Whites’ 1-20 to 0-19 in a thrilling game. Kildare led 0-12 to 0-01 in the 22nd minute but a Paddy Henry goal inspired Derry to hit 1-04 before the break. In the second half Derry ran riot and Paddy Henry with 1-07, Ruairi Convery with 0-06 and Kevin Hinphey with 0-03 put the stunned home side to the sword.
Derry survived the dismissal of Cormac McKenna and a late Meath rally to record their third successive victory. Meath led 0-07 to 0-06 at half-time, and then 0-09 to 0-06, but with Ruairi Convery 0-06 and Kevin Hinphey 0-04 in scoring form they held on for a 0-15 to 0-14 victory.
Ruairi McCloskey could have recovered enough to play some part in this game and his determined play could be required in what will be a tough game.
The Derry manager is unlikely to make changes from the side that played with such determination against Meath.