Derry hurlers missing Cassidy for Donegal clash as Henry leaves panel

Derry hurlers will be without Eoghan Cassidy for Sunday’s crucial league clash against Donegal while Chrissy Henry has left the panel after taking a year out to travel to Dubai.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 6:32 pm
Joint Derry manager Dominic McKinley.

Kevin Lynch’s midfielder Cassidy suffered concussion after an accidental collision during training at Owenbeg last week and misses Sunday’s encounter at Ballinascreen (throw-in 2pm) as part of the safety protocols surrounding any head injury. Henry had been working his way back from injury before a hamstring injury ruled the Lavey man out of the opening two league games.

There was some good news for joint managers Dominic McKinley (above) and Cormac Donnelly though with Slaughtneil’s Conor McAllister nearing full fitness as Derry seek a first win of the season to lift them clear of bottom spot in Division 2B.

“The mood in the camp is good,” explained McKinley, “We know it is a massive challenge against Donegal this weekend, their result against Mayo was a great result for them.

“Donegal are going well. I don’t know a great deal about them but I’m sure the two sets of players know each other, they have played back and forth over the years.

“One thing we do know is this is a massive challenge for us but we will be looking forward to it. We need to try and get a win under our belts to build a bit of momentum going into the Christy Ring. At this moment in time, the league has gone but we have to make sure we don’t end up at the bottom. We want to make sure we don’t get caught down there but the only thing we can focus on is what happens this weekend against Donegal.”

Sunday’s will be the Oak Leafers first home fixture of the season after defeats away to Mayo (0-21 to 1-16) and Kildare (5-17 to 1-14) ended any hopes of a promotion challenge. Those defeats mean Derry currently sit bottom with a final fixture at home to Roscommon to finish their league programme.

“We could have been well ahead against Kildare and that’s how we are looking at, we are looking at positives to put to ourselves and the players,” added McKinley, “Maybe some of the other teams are a bit ahead of us in terms of preparation. We felt we had enough done but some of those teams are ahead of us. We need to gradually build it up.

“Our team-play has been good. We are happy with the way we are working the ball out from our backs and into that final third, the way we are delivering the ball and so on. The cohesion of the team was a lot better in Kildare than it was in Mayo, we just need to improve that again and take our chances.

“The good things is we haven’t to jump in a car and sail three or four hours down the road this time, and that’s important. It can play a major role, especially in a season like this. We should be fresher and hopefully that will benefit us.

“We need to make sure that when we create an opportunity, we are able to take it. A large part of our training has been geared towards that, making sure when we get inside and create something that we can finish it off.

“These are all things that, when you haven’t played hurling since September last year, when most of the boys would have downed hurls, it takes a while to get that level back and maybe some teams a further forward in their prep work than us. We can do nothing about that now but we will do everything in our power to improve week by week.”

McKinley admitted losing Cassidy was a blow after the Lynch’s man had impressed in the opening two league fixtures and aid everyone wished Henry well for his travels.

“Eoghan Cassidy is a major loss. He played well in Kildare and is a very dedicated young fella so it’s a blow for him and us but you don’t take chances with head injuries. Chrissy has taken a year’s break. We had hope he would be fit in time to feature but it’s the opportunity of the lifetime for any young fella so we wish him all the best for it.

“We know Donegal will be well up for it. I know some of their players through working with the Ulster team, boys like Danny Cullen and Declan Coulter and they are all good players. It will be a tough game but one we are looking forward to.”