Derry must be at their best for minor final
The Championship season to date has provided its fair share of surprise results but arguably no team has upset the applecart to quite the same extent as the Derry minor outfit.
Damien McErlain's side went in against Donegal in their Ulster semi-final rated as no-hopers against a line-up that was only being freely tipped to ascent the provincial throne but to collect the All-Ireland title as well.
In the event, Derry overruled the formbook by delivering a performance that was high in intensity and rich in quality and which sent out the message to tomorrow's provincial final opponents Cavan that they have the provincial crown very much in their sights.
The pragmatic McErlain, a director of the family bakery company in Magherafelt, had admitted before the Donegal that his side faced "a massive task" and he now finds himself pursuing the same theme as his side prepare to do battle with a Breffni team that have overcome Monaghan and Antrim to date with some conviction.
"Cavan have made good progress and will feel they can make a big statement," maintains McErlain.
"I think this will be a cracking game between two well-matched sides. While we can take comfort from our win over Donegal, Cavan's form is such that they will fancy their chances of becoming champions."
In overcoming Donegal, Derry showed a feisty spirit, commendable work-rate and generous individual skills that complemented a healthy team ethic.
Conor Glass proved an inspirational figure as he played himself to a standstill, Patrick Kearney and Jack Doherty formed a combative midfield pairing, Michael McEvoy and Conor McGrogan were twin defensive pillars and Fergal Higgins and Shane McGuigan underlined their marksmanship up front.
Cavan, though, bolstered by several players from the St Patrick's College side that won the MacRory Cup this year, will provide a stern test.