Derry minors seek to bounce back from Ulster heartbreak in All Ireland quarter-final against Cork
Electric Ireland All Ireland Minor Football semi-final: Derry v Cork (Saturday, Portlaoise, 6pm)
Manager Martin Boyle believes Saturday’s All Ireland Football Quarter-final against Cork in Portlaoise is the perfect opportunity for his Derry minor squad to put their Ulster Final disappointment behind them.
An uncharacteristically lethargic opening half against Tyrone two weeks ago ultimately cost the young Oak Leafers an Ulster title in a game during which they never quite hit the heights of previous performances. The positive side to that coin is Derry can take heart from the knowledge they could still have beaten the Red Hands without ever finding their top form and Boyle is adamant they will be better for their experience in Clones.
“We had a good, honest meeting last week and Darren (McShane, assistant manager) was able to get down to Páirc Uí Rinn for the Cork/Kerry game. We had training followed by a very good meeting, watched different parts of the game and got ourselves refocused because it was quite sobering in the Ulster final,” said Boyle
“The boys knew that wasn’t us in the final, it wasn’t the standard we usually play to but they have responded well and we were able to get plenty out of them over the last couple of nights. They were a bit disappointed in themselves, individually and collectively, from the Ulster final which is a good thing and hopefully we will get a response this weekend.”
The concession of four goals in that final defeat raised plenty of eyebrows within the Derry squad and within the management team and Boyle admits their defending must improve when they take on the Munster champions in MW Hire O’Moore Park.
“The big thing for us to look at after the final was how we defended, particularly in the first half,” he added, “It wasn’t good enough, that’s not up for debate, but the players felt themselves they hadn’t done themselves justice by how they defended collectively and they know they can play much better.
“There definitely has been a response over the weekend and that’s good to see from the boys. In many ways the players are able to take heart from the final because they know they were so close to Tyrone without playing anywhere near their best and they know they can play better.”
Derry’s reward for reaching the Ulster decider is a meeting with a Cork team who emphatically dispatched Kerry by 3-11 to 0-09 in the Munster final on June 1st and Boyle knows the Rebel County represent a formidable challenge.
“Cork’s victory in the final was emphatic but it’s strange how Munster works because Kerry beat Cork 1-16 to 0-05 on May 12th and then they played in the final and Cork won quite convincingly. Kerry had a man sent off which maybe contributed to the scoreline but with Darren down at it, it was good to see them in the flesh.
“They are a good team; a really, really strong running team and have a lot of tricky, dangerous forwards but you’d expect nothing less at this stage. When you look at the different counties who are in the last eight, no matter who you end up facing you know it will be a tough game and one you have to be at your best for.
“It’s a great experience for players and the fact you are coming up against different players, different teams, that can be reinvigorating for players. It’s refreshing.
“The players will be the better for the Ulster final and the experience they had. For those boys to experience Clones on that day, it was a brilliant occasion and will do them good. Later on in their careers they will look back on it, obviously there will be that sense of disappointment, but they can use that and know they were part of a really special day for Derry football.”
Boyle, who is a big fan of the ‘back door system’ operated in the minor championship, is delighted his players have a second chance at championship glory after some impressive displays this season.
“The ‘back door’ is brilliant. It was a huge carrot that you knew if you could get to an Ulster final you were in the All Ireland Quarter-final. The novelty of playing someone new as such was really exciting and that’s where we are at now. We just want the boys to do themselves justice. If that’s not good enough for us to get the victory so be it but we want them to show what a good team they are.”