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Focus is the key for Derry

By John Campbell

Published 20/02/2016

Warning: Ruairi Convery is keen to avoid any lapses
Warning: Ruairi Convery is keen to avoid any lapses

Ruairi Convery's ambition to sample Division One hurling still burns brightly.

But the 32-year-old Derry sharpshooter believes his side must now make a bold strike to reach the top table otherwise they could find themselves bracketed among the also-rans in the sport.

The Oak Leaf side have tended to flirt with league glory in recent seasons without quite making the impact of which they had been thought capable.

Convery is invariably the team's top scorer although he is quick to testify to the ability of players such as Paddy Henry, John O'Dwyer and Shane Farren when it comes to putting points on the board.

He will line out against Westmeath at Cusack Park, Mullingar tomorrow conscious that a win would keep his side's prospects of advancement alive but equally alert to defensive lapses similar to those that marred the loss to Antrim last weekend.

"We had Antrim on the run in the first-half and we were looking good," reflected Convery. "Then we turned round and conceded 1-15 in the second-half.

"You are never going to get anywhere by doing that. However, we feel we have absorbed a valuable early lesson and our aim will be to concentrate fully for the whole match."

Westmeath have been knocking on the top-flight door without quite gaining admittance, and are a resilient side capable of playing expansive hurling and Convery is urging his colleagues to keep their guard up.

"I think we are more than capable of turning in a performance and if we do that and keep our focus, then we won't be too far away," said Convery.

Manager Tom McLean, pleased that he has his Slaughtneil and Eoghan Rua (Coleraine) contingents back on board, is convinced that Derry are capable of mounting a promotion bid.

"We showed in the first-half in particular last week that we can play a bit. At the end of the day our destiny is in our own hands and we have to be sure that our efforts get the reward we think they deserve," said McLean.

And his efforts have already elicited a ringing endorsement from the long-serving Convery. "Tom is a great hurling man, the players look up to him and he can get the best out of us. I feel sure of that," added Convery.

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