Derry boss John McEvoy expecting additions to add to feel good factor
Derry manager John McEvoy has revealed he is expecting to bolster his squad still further despite kicking off their Division 2B campaign with a three point victory over Down in a high quality game.
With neither Brendan Rogers nor Chrissy McKagiue under consideration this season, McEvoy said the panel would remain open until the end of the league campaign but stressed he is more than happy with the squad that made such an impressive start in Celtic Park on Sunday.
“The squad will remain open until the end of the league,” revealed McEvoy after Derry’s 1-19 to 0-19 victory over the Ardsmen, “At this moment in time, however, we are very happy with who we have. We have two new fellas back in with Sean Cassidy and Jorome McGuigan, they came in this week.
“We gave the Slaughtneil boys two weeks rest but they are back in the mix now. You’d obviously hope to have one or two others maybe but I’m very, very happy with who we have and the atmosphere within the squad is excellent.”
With Meehawl McGrath currently on holidays and Se McGuigan injured, McEvoy also revealed he isn’t expecting Kevin Lynch’s stalwart to feature due to family commitments but paid tribute to immense contribution to Derry hurling.
“There are a couple of lads that will come back into it. We are talking to a couple of people. Obviously Meehawl (McGrath), Sé (McGuigan), Mark McGuigan - that’s where it is at the moment. We may add one or two more but not just from Slaughtneil, from across the board.
“Se McGuigan is injured and Meehawl is away on holidays. We have a couple of lads that will come back in. Mark Craig unfortunately picked up an injury last year and we just have to mind Mark. He was centre back last year against Meath and played very well. I think he will come back in towards the end of the league.
“With Liam Hinphey, we had hoped to bring him in but due to family reasons he is unable to commit but what a servant to Derry hurling. The door will always be open to Liam but he’s not able to commit and I don’t think he will be able to commit this year. Liam has told me he won’t be able to commit and I am not going to put any pressure on him.”
On the dual players, McEvoy was delighted to have Brian McGilligan and Eamon McGill concentrating solely on hurling this season and said he understood the situation Brendan Rogers finds himself in.
“I had a great conversation with Brendan at the start of the year. It didn’t work for either party last year; it didn’t work for him and it didn’t work for us. We’d love to have him of course but for a guy his age with the injuries he’s had, he is really only able to concentrate on one for this moment in time anyway.
“The two big pluses from a dual sense are Brian Og McGilligan and Eamon McGill are just playing hurling this year and have committed fully to the squad. You saw the two performances today, they were tremendous.”
Any new additions will only add to the feel-good factor very evident in a display full of character as well as ability against Down. Backed by the elements in the opening half, Derry established a 1-11 to 0-07 lead at the interval but Down roared back after the break only to find a Derry side ready to match them blow for blow.
“We dug in and we knew we would have to,” added McEvoy, “We played another man back, Cass (Eoghan Cassidy) came out to the middle of the field and did very well for his first game as a young fella.
“I was delighted with particularly the second ball. Okay, we mightn’t have won too much off Sean’s puck outs but that’s something we can work on in terms of our own set up. In the second half we won a lot of the secondary possession and going into the second game against London we just have to be a bit more disciplined in the tackle. If we keep giving away frees we will be easily punished.
“Oisin McManus was a very good free taker for Down and we were conscious of that coming in. We saw him in the Keough Cup and that punished us all day but, equally, when they got a score we came up the field and showed good character to nail a couple of scores. There were some really good signs there today.”
Derry were outscored by 0-12 to 0-8 in the second period but crucially never allowed Down to gain momentum with Conor Kelly, Eoghan Cassidy, Thomas Brady and Cormac O’Doherty all hitting crucial scores to keep the Oak Leafers out of reach in pivotal junctions of the game.
“Conor Kelly hit a savage score; Tom Brady got a savage score and they were at vital moments because Down were after nailing two frees but we went up the field and got two great scores. That was basically the story of the game, our ability to come back and keep ourselves in the game.
“We may not have done that last year in terms of the momentum but in terms of our last 10 or 15 minutes, that was very, very pleasing. We hung in there, got the hooks in, the blocks, the turnovers.
“The turnover count at the end was good. It can be better but certainly from nailing those scores and being clear in our decision making, yes, it was pleasing. The work we have done since November is beginning to pay off.”