DERRY GAA: Under 20 Hurling boss Ryan O'Neill says players can bounce back from Ulster heartbreak
Derry Under 20 hurling manager Ryan O'Neill believes his players can bounce back from Saturday's Ulster Championship final heartbreak in the All Ireland 'B' series.
The young Oak Leafers lost out to Antrim after two Aidan Scullion goals proved the difference between the teams in an evenly contested final in difficult conditions at Owenbeg at the weekend. That result sends Antrim into the Leinster U20 Championship while O'Neill's young Oak Leafers go forward to the All Ireland 'B' Series where the Derry manager believes they'll have a point to prove.
"We've made loads of progress and I won't be holding anything against those lads," explained the Derry boss after the 0-11 to 2-13 defeat.
"Any time they go across that white line they deliver and today was no different. Antrim go to Leinster now but we'll go to the All Ireland 'B' Championship and we'll give it a good rattle."
Having defeated Down and Donegal to reach the decider, Derry were unable to gain revenge for a two point group defeat to the Saffrons in February but O'Neill insisted there was little between the two sides.
"It was a disappointing day," he added, "Look, it's a final, it was there to be won but I still think we are evenly matched as teams. The weather was a major factor but that's the way it goes. When you have a breeze like that you need to be making use of it and the thing with playing here at Owenbeg is the wind is changing constantly. One minute it's going one way, the next it’s going another but you have to use it when it's there and if you don't you'll pay for it. Unfortunately we paid for it today."
Scullion's opening goal in the 26th minute arrived just as Derry appeared to have taken control and were building a lead with the wind at their backs in the opening half. It was the game's critical score and one O'Neill admitted, Derry should have done better with.
"We gave away a goal at a very bad time. It was from a poor clearance from ourselves, something we will have to take a look at but again, the weather could have played a factor. To give away a goal just before half-time is a killer in any game.
"We were shaping up to get out in front at that time but you can never write Antrim off. Antrim will always come back at you and in fairness to our lads we have a good bit of work done, but to give away the goal at that stage, and with the weather to come, it's just the way it goes."
Derry: Cathal McElhinney, Andy McBride, Aimen Duffin, Mark McEldowney, John McAllister, James Friel, Callum O'Kane, Ronan McNamee, Eunan Boylan Ruairi O Mianain, Niall McGonigle, Jack Cassidy, Conor Murtagh, Eamon Cassidy, Keelan Docherty. (Subs) Segdae Melaugh for C Murtagh, HT; Ruairi McLaughlin for R McNamme, 36mins; Conan Bradley for E Boylan, 52mins; Ryan Hendry for K Docherty, 59mins;