DERRY hurlers will be looking to build on an impressive season so far when they take on Kildare in the quarter-final of the Christy Ring Cup in Banagher tomorrow afternoon. (2.30pm).
The Oak Leafers have lost just three games, all of them to Wicklow, the first in the league, the second in the league final and the third in last Saturday’s second round Christy Ring Cup clash at Aughrim.
Derry were 16 points down at half time last weekend in Aughrim but had the advantage of a gale force wind at their backs in the second period.
Ger Rogans’s men were in complete control of the game in the second period but the match became a ‘stop start’ affair, much to the annoyance of Derry selector Sean McCloskey from Banagher.
“Wicklow slowed the whole thing down in the second half,” explained McCloskey, “It was obviously a policy. They knew that they had a good lead and we would be coming back at them. Time and again they remained on the ground after tackles which didn’t seem that bad. Their plan was to slow down the game as much as possible and stop us from gaining momentum. We could not get any momentum as there were so many stoppages. They wanted to slow the pace down and stop us getting into our stride.”
However Derry did not help their own cause by trying for goals too often from placed balls, when a few points here and there might just have built the much needed momentum. Derry also fluffed a couple of gilt-edged goal chances.
The defeat came at an extra cost too as Ruairi Convery was sent off which rules him out for tomorrow’s clash, while Patrick McCloskey suffered a broken finger, although he might yet play against Kildare.
The list of absentees has continued to grow in recent weeks, with Kevin Hinphey picking up a straight red card against Down in the opening game of this competition.
The likes of Paddy Henry and Paddy Kelly are also still on the sidelines through injury though there may be some good news as regards Liam Hinphey.
The Dungiven man played ten minutes of a reserve game last week and might be able to take some part in this weekend’s clash with the ‘Lilywhites’. He did travel with the panel to Aughrim but he became ill over the weekend and had to be medically attended by the doctor,
Derry have already beaten Kildare once this year, in the early rounds of a National League campaign that saw Ger Rogan’s men reach their second straight final, only to lose narrowly to Wicklow.
With Kevin Hinphey and Ruairi Convery definitely out through suspension, and several other players doubtful through injury, Derry will be up against it but they have shown great resilience in the past in the face of adversity.
The Oak Leafers are preparing for their Ulster championship opener against Tyrone in Omagh next Saturday, a game which will be preceded by the clash of the two counties’ minor sides.