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Hammered Derry should be in tier two, says McGurk

Kilkenny 8-35 Derry 0-7

By Declan Rooney

Colm McGurk will hope he'll never have a repeat of a defeat like this in his career, but the Derry boss admitted they faced an opponent simply way out of their class in the All-Ireland U21 Championship semi-final at Semple Stadium.

Dreams of a repeat of Antrim's 2013 win over Wexford at the same stage quickly evaporated as Kilkenny started their run of goals in the second minute.

"It was a hard day at the office. We knew coming down here that it was going to be tough," said McGurk (right). "We thought we could maybe hold them for a while but Kilkenny came out of the traps real hard and made sure we didn't have any hope.

"In all reality, Derry should be in the tier two U21 competition. But that's the way of the draw. The fellas want to play in Thurles against Kilkenny and that's a nice experience."

A 52-point landslide is no way to prepare for an All-Ireland final with an in-form Limerick, but Kilkenny manager Eddie Brennan used it as a platform to call for structural change.

Galway's 43-point win over Derry in 1997 is the closest any team has come to that winning margin in the last two decades, but with the Tribesmen undercooked and the Oak Leafs outclassed this year, Brennan thinks it's time for the playing field to be levelled.

"There was talk of taking the game up to Derry, but unfortunately I'm not tasked with promoting hurling in Derry," said Brennan. "We have to look at this structure. Maybe we need to look at potentially scrapping the provincial championships and making an open draw. Maybe this is the competition for that, whereby you put everybody into a hat and have a 16-team competition or whatever it is. Filter it down so you are going to have four real quality quarter-finals.

"The Munster competition, there are a lot of people very attached to that. I'm respectful of that. Maybe U21 could be used to road-test an open draw. Maybe that is the way hurling is going to go."

This game was so one-sided it would be unfair to lash the Derry players for their efforts. Outclassed from the first seconds, they battled until the end and gave it their all.

Kilkenny led 5-12 to 0-4 at half-time after two Billy Ryan goals, while John Donnelly's six second-half points and goals from Shane Walsh, Eoin Kenny and Luke Scanlon added to Derry's misery.

Scorers:

Kilkenny: S Walsh 2-7 (2fs); J Donnelly 1-7; B Ryan 2-0; L Blanchfield 0-6; R Leahy 1-2; E Kenny, Luke Scanlon 1-1; A Murphy, J Walsh 0-3; N McMahon, D Mullen, S Morrissey, H Lawlor, R Bergin 0-1.

Derry: C O'Doherty 0-3; C Steele, D Cartin, C Reilly, B Laverty 0-1.

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