From Championship no hopers to Ulster title favourites it has been a roller coaster ride to Clones for Damian McErlain’s Derry Minors.
Dismissed by most as ‘cannon fodder’ for Donegal in the semi-final, the young Oak Leafers produced a superbly disciplined performance to make the Clones decider with Cavan this Sunday.
And with Donegal’s demise, Derry were promptly installed as favourites, not that McErlain will allow any complacency to creep into Derry’s preparations.
“I suppose that’s football for you,” explained the Derry manager. “But there is no chance we will be underestimating Cavan. We know the quality they bring.
“It wasn’t difficult to bring the boys back down to earth after the Donegal game. They knew no-one was handing us any trophies after that game so we didn’t have to tell them not to get ahead of themselves.
“We are at the stage now where we can’t wait for the day itself to come but there will be a healthy respect for Cavan. A lot of the players will know each other from playing MacRory or from Glen’s run in Ulster so we know Cavan are definitely at the top level. We will have to produce another excellent performance.”
Unlike the semi-final before which McErlain and his back room team were able to draw on previous encounters with Donegal, he admits Cavan is something of a step into the unknown.
“We haven’t met them this year and their league form is largely irrelevant so it is hard to establish how good they are. We know they have good players but, at minor level especially, you can never be sure what a team is like as a unit until you meet them so we have to concentrate on our game.
“Ulster titles have been rare enough around Derry in recent years so we’ll be doing our best to bring this one back.”