Derry minor manager Damien McErlain praises squad depth after Dublin victory

Derry minor football manager Damian McErlain. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2316GS – 51Derry minor football manager Damian McErlain. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2316GS – 51
Derry minor football manager Damian McErlain. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2316GS – 51
​Derry 0-18, Dublin 2-10Derry minor manager Damien McErlain paid tribute to his squad's strength in depth as his back to back Ulster champions got the better of a dogged Dublin side to set up an All Ireland semi-final against Kerry.

Saturday's victory was a 10th straight victory of the season for McErlain's young Oak Leafers and the third time Derry have defeated Dublin at minor grade in the last eight years, but there was nothing straight forward about a victory Derry had to grind out.

In a tight game Derry twice forged three point leads only for Dublin goals to wipe out the advantage before the impressive Darach Magee put Dublin in a 2-9 to 0-14 lead with only eight minutes of normal time remaining.

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But this Derry team doesn't do panic and after the excellent Turlough McHugh levelled, points from captain James Sargent (2) and Luke Grant gave Derry another three point lead they wouldn't lose in what proved a superb win.

Keeper Jack McCloy was excellent throughout, his accurate kicks generally finding a pair of Derry hands. Ronan Canavan had another sound game at full back. The half back line pushed forward a bit too much in the first half in the first half but held their ground better in the second with wing men Grant and Dara McGuckin prominent.

"Look, we're just delighted to get through it," said McErlain after the 0-18 to 2-10 victory, "It's an All Ireland quarter-final against against the Dubs so it was never going to be a handy day out in any shape or form. They had lost the Leinster final but never should have lost it in terms of the goal chances they created and didn't take.

"So we knew they carried that threat and it was going to be a big part of their game. When they were playing with a very strong breeze in the first half they tried to transfer the ball ultra quick and they got a goal from it so, look, we're delighted to get over it.

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"There were a massive number of challenges. They brought it back level in the middle of the second half. After us going three up we gave away another goal and that kept Dublin in it but again we showed great composure and character overall to win key balls, key turnovers and key breaking balls at times when we really needed to be getting them.

"That enabled us to compose ourselves again and go three clear again and we saw it out from there."

With Ger Dillon carrying a knee injury he aggravated in the Ulster final victory over Armagh and only fit to start on the bench, McErlain drafted Drumsurn's Turlough McHugh in to partner Cathair McBride at midfield which meant a place in thew half forward line for James Sargent. It was a move which paid dividends too, as Sargent and McHugh both grabbed four points apiece, McHugh's score all coming from play.

"Yeah, they had to work it out for themselves out on the pitch," added the Derry boss of Magee's second half goal, "We had gone three up and we were just commenting that if we could go four up then that would be a big score for us but then Dublin got that second goal. It pulled us back into it and then the tiredness sets in; it's got hotter here at the midpoint of the day so the pressure was on the lads.

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"We made a few changes for boys who were tired and that depth worked really well for us. We were fit to bring in Padraig Haran who did really well and Ger (Dillon) came on to steady the ship a bit. You had Turlough McHugh who came in today and kicked four points from play so that shows we've a bit of depth and boys fighting for places which helps.

"Four points is a big contribution from Turlough and he won a few kick-outs too. We pushed James Sargent up closer to the goals in that regard but Turlough did very well and we're just delighted to get over the line."

With Kerry dismantling Roscommon by 3-18 to 2-3 in the most one sided of the other last eight ties, McErlain knows his players have another mountain to climb if they are to reach successive All Ireland finals.

"It is two weeks (to prepare) but the games have all had that two weeks so we are used to that sort of run rate now," he added, "Kerry, we have only really seen in the Cork match. They wouldn't have had the number of games teams get in Ulster so it'll be an interesting match and a massive challenge. We played Kerry earlier on the year and it was a massive match so it is a huge one to look forward to."

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Derry scorers: Eamon Young (0-4,1f), James Sargent (0-4, 1f), Turlough McHugh (0-4), Dylan Rocks (0-3), Ruairi Biggs (0-1), Luke Grant (0-1), Dara McGuckin (0-1).

Dublin scorers: Darach Magee (1-3), Senan Bolger (1-1), Rian Doherty (0-3, 3f), Hugh O’Neill (0-1, 1f), Ryan Ennis (0-1) and Finn McGinnis (0-1).Derry: Jack McCloy, Padraig O’Kane, Ronan Canavan, Rian Collins, Luke Grant, Cathal O’Mianain, Dara McGuckin, James Sargent, Cathair McBride, Eamon Young Turlough McHugh, Caoimhin Hargan, Chris McCullagh, Ruairi Biggs, Dylan Rocks. Subs Padraig Haran for R Collins, HT; Ger Dillon for C McCullagh, 42mins; Codi Rocks for R Biggs, 42mins; Caomhan McNally for P O’Kane. 54mins.Dublin: Finn McDonnell, Shane Devane, Finn Costello, Jack O’Keefe, Josh Kennedy, Finn McGinnis, Dara O’Sullivan, Ryan Ennis, Killian Costello, Charlie Loughran, Darach Magee, Paddy Copeland, Senan Bolger, Hugh O’Neill, Rian Doherty. (Subs) Jack McNair for P Copeland, 56mins; F Leydon for R Doherty, 58mins; J Comiskey for S Bolger, 62mins.Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

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