Derry hurlers face crucial 'must win' Christy Ring clash with Sligo

KEY MAN . . Derry's Cormac O'Doherty. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2310GS – 04KEY MAN . . Derry's Cormac O'Doherty. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2310GS – 04
KEY MAN . . Derry's Cormac O'Doherty. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2310GS – 04
​Derry senior hurling manager Johnny McGarvey wants his players to relish the pressure of Sunday's critical Christy Ring Cup, Round Two clash with Sligo at Owenbeg (3pm).

Last Sunday's draw against Tyrone in Healy Park has left Derry with ground to make up in a competition where the top two in the six county group will contest the championship final. With Sligo and Meath having registered opening day victories over London and Mayo respectively, Derry have left themselves with little room for error but McGarvey insists the task remains the same.

"That's why you play the game!" explained the Lavey man when asked if there was added pressure this weekend, "I certainly wouldn't be one that would say there's going to be pressure. The whole reason you play is to play in the big games, the championship games when everything is on the line. You want to enjoy that championship atmosphere. Call it pressure if you like but, no, I'm looking forward to getting back at it and righting the wrongs of last week.

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"There's no doubt Sligo tails will be up and they'll be coming to Owenbeg to try and do the same thing to us that they did to London. I'm sure they will look at the game and think, 'If we can get a win there, that puts us right in the mix.'

"We will be very much concentrating on ourselves and trying to make sure everything we do is right because I think if we do that we will win the game. We have trained well and are in good physical shape but it's still a matter of putting it into practise over the course of a full match."

It was Sligo that Derry defeated in last season's league play-off to secure promotion to Division 2A for this season and McGarvey is expecting a strong challenge from Padraig Mannion's team.

"A lot of our boys would know Sligo well," added McGarvey, "I saw them play Derry in last year's league final. I don't know massive amounts about them as a team but I know Andrew Kilcullen was a Christy Ring All Star last year, scored 14 points last weekend and he's a super player. He's not alone either and Sligo have some very good players.

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They beat London and that's a decent result for them but it means it's now very important we win the match on Sunday. If they were to go to four points from two matches and us sitting on one with three to play, it becomes very difficult. If we don't win the match we could be in serious difficulty."

Sean Francis Quinn is Derry’s only injury doubt and McGarvey wants to see a more ruthless Derry after wastefulness contributed to last week's draw in Healy Park.

"(I'm) probably still a bit frustrated more than anything else by the fact that we created a lot of chances and we didn't take them," said the Derry boss of the Tyrone game. "We wouldn't call them difficult chances. It's not to say we were having shots under serious pressure. We have to be a bit cleaner on our execution and more ruthless.

"Something we noticed in Division 2A was the other teams were getting 40 odd shots in a match and we weren't. We were probably down in the 30, maybe 35, mark. We were very aware that we had to create more chances to get more scores and given the work we did, we were disappointed we didn't score more heavily given our chances.

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"We felt we had played reasonably well in the league and not got the results we deserved. In fact we probably played better in the league matches than we did in the second half last Sunday and it wasn't the case of Tyrone coming with a massive onslaught. Our misses brought them back into the game.

"I've watched it back and I am extremely disappointed in the standard of refereeing. I'm happy enough for anyone to watch it and tell me different but between our mistakes and frees that, for me, were terrible decisions, it created that opportunity for Tyrone to come back into the match but we have the chance to put that right this week."

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