Christy Ring Cup: Derry boss to remain grounded after sinking Ardsmen
Derry manager Ger Rogan is refusing to get “carried away” after his side’s win over Down in Saturday’s Christy Ring Cup opener at Ballycran.
The Oak Leafers bossed the all-Ulster clash in the Ards sunshine, coming away from McKenna Park on the right side of a 2-17 to 1-13 scoreline.
Down, who finished in mid-table in Division 2, were strong favourites to see off the Division 3 runners-up.
But, helped by two first half goals from Oisin Doherty and Alan Grant, Derry were full value for their win.
“We’ll not get carried away, it was a good performance, but we’re not gong to lose sight of the fact that we are in a building process,” said Rogan.
“Sometimes it’s a better challenge coming to a home ground as underdogs.
“It’s easier to try and perform I’m delighted with that performance. I thought it was probably our best hurling this year,” he added.
“I always felt that coming to play a top-tier hurling team like Down that we’d be able to play a lot better hurling and that’s how it transpired.”
The gloss was slightly taken off Derry’s win with the double sending-off of Kevin Hinphey and Mark Craig just before the final whistle, apparently for arguing with officials over the awarding of a ‘65’.
Down, who shaded the early possession, grabbed the game’s first goal through Gareth Johnson.
The opening quarter was fairly even with the sides tied four times in the opening 15 minutes, but after Grant’s major, Derry started to put daylight between the sides and led by 2-8 to 1-8 at the break.
The Ardsmen lost Conor O’Prey to two yellow cards midway through the second half, but Derry never looked like surrendering their lead and twice they led by seven points in the second half.
Meanwhile, Armagh, who lost former Down star Ruairi McGrattan to a red card two minutes from the break, found Meath too tough a hurdle at the Athletic Grounds. The Royals led by 2-9 to 1-8 at half time with Declan Coulter firing home Armagh’s goal from the penalty spot.
Armagh now go into the loser’s draw with Down, Mayo and Kildare while Derry join Wicklow, Meath and Kerry in the second round. In the Lory Meagher Cup, all three Ulster teams in action chalked up victories.
Tyrone continued their good form against Longford, winning away from home with a 4-17 to 2-12 scoreline.
South Down, who lost out to Tyrone in the Division 4 final last week, got back to winning ways against Leitrim, winning 4-25 to 0-8, and Donegal came back from Warwickshire with a nine-point win, 3-16 to 1-13.