Players didn't do themselves justice admits Derry Under 20 manager Paddy Bradley after Monaghan defeat

Derry under 20 manager Paddy Bradley had no complaints about his side's Ulster Championship exit to Monaghan on Friday night but admitted he was frustrated his players had not done themselves justice.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 10:00 am
Derry’s James McGurk receives a late red card from referee Kieran Eannetta after a foul on Monaghan keeper Ryan Farrelly. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Two first half Monaghan goals were the platform for a deserved Farney success in Celtic Park as Derry fail to build on a positive opening, eventually going down 2-09 to 0-11 with Bradley conceding the deficit could have been more.

"I'm just disappointed that the lads didn't perform didn't perform the way they are capable of performing. I felt we just gave away too much ball, too many turnovers," explained the Derry boss., "I thought in the first half we were the better side with piles of possession but we probably paid them too much respect. We dilly dallied a bit coming out of defence and didn't go at them enough. We created plenty of chances in the first half but gave away two bad goals from turnovers.

"There was a ball kicked down Sean Kearney's throat and he didn't win it and they got a goal from it and then Jack obviously with a bad kick-out, but those things can happen and in fairness to Monaghan they were clinical in the first half, taking those two chances meaning we were always on the back foot.

"In the second half we had to push to get on level terms and we were leaving ourselves a bit more open at the back. Truth be told, Monaghan should have had two or three more goals

The Covid impacted 2021 calendar necessitated that the Under 20 competition be moved from its normal early season slot and landed in a far from ideal berth between the senior and minor Ulster Championships. Add in Derry minors' involvement with the delayed 2020 Ulster and All Ireland Series and the lack of a 2021 Under 20 league and preparations were far from ideal for Bradley and his management team.

"Obviously if you had your four or five minors and Ethan Doherty, that makes you a lot stronger and then the disrupted preparation, with a few injuries and what not; look it definitely was difficult. That said, I'm sure Monaghan had their preparation disrupted too so we can't use that as an excuse.

"I still felt tonight, had they performed the way they are capable of performing and they way they have been performing in the last three or four weeks, then we had enough to win the game. Probably in the first half, we didn't get ahead which we should have been doing because we had enough possession and had enough chances. Those couple of mistakes gave them the goals and it was always catch up from there.

"There was poor decision making at times. I said to Johnny (McGurk) and Chris (Collins), sometimes when teams set up defensively like Monaghan did, you are afraid to go at them and I thought we were very ponderous in our attacks. We had worked a lot on it. In the last couple of friendlies we played we have been very good attacking against the 'blanket' but tonight, even in the warm-up myself and Chris commented that a lot of the boys seemed very nervous.

"I think that transmitted on the field and I don't think they did themselves justice tonight."

Of all the years to come into county management, 2021 must rank as the most difficult but despite the adversity, Bradley has enjoyed the experience and was confident his squad, the majority of whom will return next year, can bounce back.

"I suppose you feel you are not really getting a fair crack of the whip at it with the way the calendar has worked out and this competition crammed in with the seniors and minors. You're right, it was very difficult. Preparation was stop-start. There was club football in there too and you're contending with injuries and everything else. It was difficult but as I said, I am not going to be making that an excuse.

"It is also enjoyable and these are a great group of players to work with. The big thing I had said to them before the game was that I hoped they went out and did themselves justice and unfortunately a lot of them didn't.

"They played within themselves but a lot of these boys are back next year. There is only maybe three or four in their last year so it will be a year wiser panel next year and I'm sure they will take that defeat and use it next year."