"Gutted" Wilkinson admits Desertmartin deserved Championship win but promises better days ahead for Dolan's

Sean Dolan's manager Ciaran Wilkinson admitted he was gutted to lose the Derry Junior Final but promised there were better days ahead for the Creggan Club.

Saturday, 30th October 2021, 8:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 30th October 2021, 8:36 pm

With a state of the art new clubhouse on the horizon and numbers rising at underage level through the club, Dolan's have made great progress on and off the field and while Saturday's final ultimately ended in anti-climax, Wilkinson said the future can be very bright for Dolan's.

"We are moving in the right direction. Underage, senior, we are all pushing in the one direction," explained Wilkinson, "There is a great buzz about the place and there is something building, I can feel it. There is a bit of pride back in the community. Creggan people are talking about the club again and they are proud people.

"I heard they had to release more tickets for the game last night and we had some support behind us. There are not many junior teams who would do that and I would love to see a final figure on how many were in Celtic Park. We had a massive crowd there with people I have never seen getting involved with the GAA before being part of it and feeling part of it.

A dejected Ryan McLaughlin after Sean Dolans were defeated by Desertmartin in the JFC final in Celtic Park on Saturday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2143GS - 118

"There is definitely something building but we have to make sure we keep the momentum going."

Dolan's had led for most of a low scoring first half against favourites Desertmartin before turning around one point adrift at 0-3 to 0-2 in the final. However, against the breeze, the class of the south Derry men told as they hit 0-9 without reply and Wilkinson had no complaints about the result.

"We are gutted. The first half was very tight but we kicked ourselves out of it first half. We kicked five or six wides but we also forced them to kick a few wides as well because we were putting them under pressure.

"Our game-plan was working and we were keeping them out, forcing them to kick from distance but with the wind in the second half, they had players capable of hitting it over from 50 yards. You talk about levels and there are level in any sport but they were a level above - fitter, faster, stronger and they had the legs on us in the second half."

Odhran McKane expresses his disappointment after Sean Dolans were defeated by Desertmartin in the JFC final in Celtic Park on Saturday afternoon last. (Photo: George Sweeney.) DER2143GS - 117

Wilkinson said he had been impressed with Desertmartin whom he believes belong at a higher grade of football but stressed Dolan's have players who can carry the club forward

"Young (Lachlan) Murray was knocking over 50 yard frees like it was a penalty kick competition," he said, "They have a couple of great players, a few county players, and they have boys knocking on the door but we have a few good players too. Odhran McKane should be looked at in terms of the county squad but he was starved today, we couldn't get ball into him.

"Desertmartin were simply the better team on the day. They were levels above and probably shouldn't be in junior football. They should be pushing toward the top of Intermediate with that team. I don't know why they are in junior football but they shouldn't be in that division."

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