Derry Minor manager Damian McErlain was delighted with the manner in which his young Oak Leaf team handled their first taste of Ulster Championship action.
“It was great to get the victory,” remarked the Magherafelt man, “I thought that we were a bit nervous at the start. We didn’t play with the intensity that we’d talked about all week. But, look, they’re minor and it was a big occasion and we’ve got this out of the way now.
“You can play all the league games that you want but in the championship it’s the intensity, the crowd, the ground seems a lot smaller in a championship match, but I’m delighted with the effort from the lads. The attitude was 100 per cent as it has been all year and we are just looking forward to the next round.
“We have an almighty task ahead of us in the next round. We have plenty of work to do but that’s a good way to go into any championship game.”
The Derry manager said it was the manner in which his players had responded to Down’s early second half goal that had won them the game.
“Yeah, that bit of composure after a team scores a goal is critical. We were more composed after we scored our goals than they were after they scored their goal.
“We made a couple of substitutions and that shook things up a bit and gave us a bit of freshness, It was good to get the two goals as goals win championship games, especially two in quick succession.”
Derry limited Down to four scores in each half and McErlain was pleased with the Derry defending which included a cameo at full-back from Conor Glass.
“We went to Ballybofey in the league and we learned that the game is not just 15 against 15, you have to have a defensive system. We have worked on that since then but it still needs a bit of fine tuning. I thought Down got through very easily for their goal. The player (Tiarnan) Rushe is a quality player but that’s beside the point from our viewpoint.
“Conor Glass was just about everywhere. I said to someone that he looks the best full back in the county where he played in the last 10 minutes. We gave him a lot of low ball that put him under a lot of pressure and Down took the opportunity to ‘soften’ him as they used to say but his temperament is great and he’s an outstanding talent. “