Derry Minors should take confidence from Armagh victory says Oak Leaf boss Martin Boyle

Derry minor manager Martin Boyle says he hopes his players will take confidence from their five goal demolition of Armagh at the Athletic Grounds on Friday night.
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The young Oak Leafers were in sparkling form in their first championship outing of the year, running in four first half goals to lead 4-05 to 1-02 and all but put the tie to bed. Excellent finishes from Eoin Higgins, Ciaran Chambers, Ryan McNicholl and Dara McPeake were added to by a second goal for Chambers in the second half of a performance which will have marked Derry as one of the contenders for the title.

The victory sets up a mouth-watering second round tie against an equally impressive Donegal team who accounted for Fermanagh by 4-15 to 0-05 and Boyle, who led Derry to the 2020 All Ireland minor title, says the win should given his team confidence ahead of the May 7th clash.

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“The boys have to take confidence from that performance, stick their chests out and remember they are playing for Derry and we have a serious history and a serious pedigree,” explained Boyle, “Yes, feet will stay on the ground because those lads won’t get carried away (with one win). We are not even into the semi-final, we have another game before that and any team we play next is going to be a serious team.

Derry Minor manager Martin Boyle who saw his team begin their Ulster Championship campaign with an emphatic victory over Armagh in the Athletic Grounds.Derry Minor manager Martin Boyle who saw his team begin their Ulster Championship campaign with an emphatic victory over Armagh in the Athletic Grounds.
Derry Minor manager Martin Boyle who saw his team begin their Ulster Championship campaign with an emphatic victory over Armagh in the Athletic Grounds.

“I just want the players to have confidence in themselves and realise the potential and the potential and the ability they have when the apply themselves properly.”

Having lost out in the minor league final to Tyrone by a point, Boyle says he wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his side and was delighted with how they applied themselves.

“First round of the championship, you don’t really know where you are at,” added the Ballinascreen native, “We had belief in these lads, we just wanted them to go out and express themselves, go at it and play with the right mentality. In the first half things went for us, the bounce of the ball on a number of occasions and we finished a number of moves which was pleasing.

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“Then, in the second half, boys at that age have to learn how to try and manage a championship game which is an ordeal in itself, it’s a skill in itself. They have to learn you don’t be quite so gung-ho, you play the scoreboard and all the rest, things like that. As a consequence it wasn’t quite as gung-ho in the second half but still we picked off the points and there was a right stiff breeze there as well.”

It’s not often defenders outshine forwards in a five goal championship win but Derry’s backline was the catalyst for victory with an intense display typified by Slaughtneil corner back Fionn McEldowney and Boyle admitted his squad was fortunate to have a number of top quality backs in their panel.

“The day of the league final we just asked them to produce the right mentality and we learned a lot about our defenders that day. I think we are in a very fortunate position in that we have a number of go-to man marking defenders with a brilliant mentality, men who take a real pride in defending.

“That’s absolutely invaluable and we have six or seven of them. The All Ireland minor winning team didn’t have as many as that so that’s a luxury, men who just love defending, the one on one warfare of it as such.”

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Armagh rarely threatened after Eoin Higgins’ instant response to the Orchard County’s first goal, a response which was followed inside three minutes by further goals from McNicholl and McPeake and the Derry boss was surprise at how much space his team found in the Armagh rearguard.

“We were surprised at the amount of space in the Armagh defence to be honest with you. It was out late runners coming in that were hurting Armagh and that was something the boys had worked on because we felt we had plenty of legs in those positions to be able to do that.

“Second half we tried to get protection and have that crystal clear with the lads, that is wasn’t requiring a number of moves, everybody knew it was very, very straightforward when we didn’t have the ball.

“We were conscious that Armagh had a lot of big men and they were going to try and kick ball in so we wanted to cut off that avenue but, at the same time, we wanted to make sure there was enough pressure on the ball out the field.

“It worked to a degree, I know they got one there are the end that we wouldn’t be too happy about but overall we are happy enough.”