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Derry's McBride will learn from Dublin horror

By John Campbell

Expert is something that is not purchased cheaply in a GAA context.

When Derry crumpled against Dublin in the recent Allianz League football final, this gave rise to the notion that they had shot their bolt even before a ball had been kicked in the championship.

But defender Dermot McBride, far from wallowing in depression after what was a savage setback, still clings to the belief that the match itself – though not the result – can prove a valuable springboard for Sunday's meeting with Donegal at Celtic Park.

Out-thought and physically imprisoned by the rampant Dubs, the Oak Leaf side were handed the kind of lesson that all teams try to avoid. But there was no hiding place in Croke Park, where Derry's deficiencies were laid bare.

Yet McBride, one of the more seasoned competitors in what manager Brian McIver labels "an essentially young side that is still learning", prefers to focus on what he feels could prove to be a significant positive.

"It was a real kick up the backside for us and the best circumstances in which to learn for the championship," insists McBride.

"We didn't play anywhere near what we have played like all year and it was very disappointing from that viewpoint. We were in a national final and we failed to give a good account of ourselves.

"But look, it gave us good match practice for big games and we'll now take what we have learned into the Donegal game."

McBride, who like the rest of his Derry colleagues has his heart set on an Ulster medal, discovered first hand how good Dublin are.

"They are far and away the best team in the country. We got two extra games in the league, the semi-final and final, and these have shown us where we are at.

"They were very, very good in the league final and we were very, very poor on the day but we have assessed the game and hopefully we will have absorbed lessons from it," reflects McBride.

Whatever about Derry's short-term ambitions, McBride and his colleagues see only Donegal on their radar.

"They have a couple of Ulster titles and an All-Ireland in the past three years, their side is packed with experience and they will come to us aiming to prove themselves all over again. This surely emphasises just how big a task we face when all is said and done," adds McBride.

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