Derry manager Ger Rogan admits that home advantage might have weighed in his team’s favour for Sunday’s Ulster Championship semi-final replay against Down.
But then ‘home’ for Derry teams now carries a double meaning — Owenbeg or Celtic Park?
“The first inter-county competitive game at Owenbeg was our hurling fixture recently against Wicklow there so we are probably spoiled for choice in terms of home venues,” smiles Rogan.
“But to be fair to Down last Sunday’s drawn game took place at the Athletic Grounds and I suppose we can’t really quibble at having to go back there.”
In an ideal world, Derry’s renewal of rivalry with Down could have taken place in tandem with the All-Ireland football qualifier meeting between the two counties at Celtic Park tomorrow (5.00pm) but then that fixture comes under the jurisdiction of the Central Competitions Control Committee while the hurling semi-final is, of course, under the baton of the Ulster Council.
“The fact of the matter is that we have a tough game on our hands and at the end of the day the location is not the main issue,” maintains Rogan.
“We got 11 points without reply which was good going but Down may not allow us to have the same leeway this time,” concedes Rogan.
Down coach Paul Flynn was clearly frustrated by the manner in which his side had allowed their first-half advantage to slip from their grasp last Sunday.
“I thought that maybe Derry got a soft free at the end that helped them to get the draw but we have to accept that these things will happen,” says Flynn.
“We allowed them too much freedom in the second-half and we paid the penalty for that.”
Having already won the Christy Ring Cup, Down have the scent of further success in their nostrils.
“The Ulster Championship is still very competitive no matter what people might think. We will be giving it everything on Sunday in the hope of booking a place in the final against Antrim,” adds Flynn.