Down and Derry hurlers bid to bounce back after frustration
Down manager Gerard Monan and Derry boss James O’Kane will now seek hurling redemption for their teams through the back door in the Christy Ring Cup when they meet Mayo and Meath respectively on Saturday.
Both counties suffered setbacks in the competition at the weekend and must now respond next weekend.
If Down’s 0-27 to 1-19 defeat by Kerry at Newry ensued from a tendency to concede too many frees, for which Darragh O’Connell in particular — who hit nine points — made them pay heavily, Derry’s 5-15 to 3-16 eclipse by Westmeath at Mullingar owed more to ill-luck than anything else.
Handicapped by the absence of such experienced frontline troops as Mark Craig and the Hinphey brothers Liam and Kevin, Derry played with rare spirit and fire.
However, fatigue proved their undoing in extra-time although Peter O’Kane’s two goals and another from Paddy McCloskey, in addition to Ruarri Convery’s eight points in normal time, had kept them in the hunt for the greater part of the contest.
Manager O’Kane is effusive praising his charges, but acknowledges that tough tasks lie ahead.
“We gave it everything, but just fell short,” he said.
“Hopefully we will get some of the guys who were absent back for the next game and that will be a big help.”
Down boss Monan, meanwhile, can take comfort from the manner in which James Coyle is maturing as a quality forward.
“There are some very decent sides in this competition,” said Monan.
“It would be a brave person who would wager on who will win the trophy at this stage, but we have work to do, there is no doubt about that.”