Derry manager Damian Barton has challenged his players to throw off the defensive shackles and shoot the Oak Leafers back to glory.
The Newbridge man watched his tenure as senior manager get off to an encouraging McKenna Cup start, albeit against an under-strength and out-of-sorts Antrim. Derry hit 4-16 and could have had more as the Saffrons were over-ran by the home side’s quick transition from defence to attack which included a very obvious willingness to drop the ball in long toward the likes of Emmet McGuckin and Ryan Bell in a front two.
“I think we looked good at times going forward which has always been a bit of an Achilles heel for Derry,” agreed Barton.
“Scoring 4-16 would make you happy but the nature of the two goals would not. Offensively there were positives despite the conditions and I think we’ll take more positives from it that anything else.
“It’s what boys train for, don’t they. To put the ball over the bar, under the bar, create scores and support in the final third of the pitch. It’s something that we will be trying to do a bit more often and more consistently. There’s a lot of boys we could throw in next week or the week after, and from that point of view its good to play competitive football.
“Derry have some great footballers. My expectation is that they express themselves – offensively as much as defensively.”
It’s what boys train for, don’t they. To put the ball over the bar, under the bar, create scores and support in the final third of the pitch. It’s something that we will be trying to do a bit more often and more consistently.Derry manager Damian Barton
Barton is envisaging a much tougher task next Sunday when McKenna Cup holders Tyrone arrive in Owenbeg but there are no plans to curtail his players’ attacking instincts.
“Tyrone are one of the top teams in the country. If Kerry were coming; if Dublin were coming; they are special games and you have to treat Tyrone in the same bracket.
“We’ll not be making any significant changes in terms of our game-plan. We still want to go out and win the game. Tyrone are full of athletes, that’s what they’ve been developing. That’s something we have to cope with next week – their running game.”