Derry minors had point to prove against Cork admits Martin Boyle as Oak Leafers set up Galway semi-final

CRUCIAL SCORE . . . Ruairi Forbes was in superb form against Cork, hitting a crucial point within seconds of the second half restart. (Photo: George Sweeney)CRUCIAL SCORE . . . Ruairi Forbes was in superb form against Cork, hitting a crucial point within seconds of the second half restart. (Photo: George Sweeney)
CRUCIAL SCORE . . . Ruairi Forbes was in superb form against Cork, hitting a crucial point within seconds of the second half restart. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Derry manager Martin Boyle says his players had a point to prove after they impressively defeated Cork on Saturday to set up an All Ireland Minor semi-final against Galway.

Still smarting from an Ulster final defeat to Tyrone in which Boyle admitted Derry had under-performed, the young Oak Leafers were superb from start to finish in Portlaoise where they completely dominated the Munster champions before running out convincing 0-12 to 0-06 winners.

Boyle was delighted by the quarter-final response but revealed the concession of four goals against the Red Hands in Clones had prompted his normally frugal team to face some home truths.

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"The boys showed plenty of hunger and we are delighted with the result," explained Boyle, "The past two weeks have been about looking at the Ulster Final. We re-watched it and looked at how we defended and the boys didn't recognise themselves or how they defended that day. They weren't happy with the standards nor the attitude they showed, collectively or individually.

"That feeling framed training for the past 10 days in terms of the tone and the attitude. We felt the boys got a bit giddy before the Ulster Final which young players can do ahead of such a big occasion but there was a better mentality to training is probably the best way to phrase it.

"We were confident there would be a performance in us against Cork but you just don't know when you are coming up against teams from other provinces, quality wise you just don't know where you stand. We were confident they would put in a battling display though and that's how it worked out."

Such was Derry's first half intensity that they limited Cork to just two points and six shots in the opening half hour and with most expecting a 'Rebel' response upon the restart, it was Ruairi Forbes who won the second half throw-in and laid down a marker with a brilliant point within seconds.

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"You can watch Cork on videos and Darren McShane was down at the Munster final which was invaluable, but you never know until you go into a match just how you will match up," added the Derry manager.

"I'm watching the game back and it's much more comfortable than it felt along the line but I suppose that's always the way. No, it was the boys' work rate - that might be a cliché - but it was the work rate, especially around the middle third where we tried to press hard. Our defenders knew they might be left one-on-one at stages but our emphasis was on trying to press Cork in the middle third because we knew they liked to run the ball and they do it very successfully. They were a very dangerous team but thankfully we were able to stop them and it worked out.

"We had chatted at half-time and said, 'Cork are going to come out with a point to prove'. We felt they were going to try to go at us for 10 minutes but we asked the boys, 'What happens if instead of Cork getting a couple of points, we get them? Where are Cork at then?'

"Again, it was one of those rare occasions where that was what transpired! That doesn't happen too often but we were delighted."

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The 6pm throw-in meant a 1am return for Derry but Boyle and coach Darren McShane were back on the road hours later, heading to Tullamore to take in Galway's 0-10 to 0-07 victory over Dublin.

"Yeah, we were home late and then down the road at 8am to Tullamore and got a good look at Galway. It is helpful when you can see your opposition in the flesh. Galway are a good side, very mobile and there looked to be a lot of character in the side. They were playing a really good Dublin team and Galway were very, very good but again, it's a bit of freshness. It's a new set of players to plan for and new players for our players to play against.

"There was a real excitement and buzz from our boys and I think they've learned the lesson about getting too giddy as such. They know the standards they have to reach each time and they know if they reach those standards then they have a chance against anybody."

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