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Derry hope to take their seat on Minor throne again

But Galway form big barrier to title

By John Campbell

Five years ago Derry landed the All Ireland Minor Football title - and several of those players have since come through at senior level.

On Sunday, the Oak Leaf county will again bid to emerge kingpins of the under-age sector when they face Galway in a Croke Park decider that has all the ingredients of being a superb contest.

The form of the protagonists to date and the level of individual skills contained in both sides suggests that the curtain will be brought down on the Minor programme in spectacular style.

Derry, edged out by Tyrone in the Ulster final, have since cemented their claims for the national title by overcoming Cork in the quarter-final and then ending the hopes of fancied Laois after a replay.

In terms of building confidence and character, these games have transformed Derry.

So much so, indeed, that manager Niall Conway believes they can raise the level of their performance even more tomorrow.

"I certainly think we will need to. Galway looked very good against Kerry in their semi-final - they are a strong, well-organised side," insists Conway.

Derry, who hit four goals in episode two against Laois, will certainly need to maintain their scoring ratio if they are to have any chance of success against the westerners.

"We know that they are very capable in defence - scores will be hard to come by," observes Conway.

Yet Derry have already shown they have the ammunition up front to torpedo the Connacht champions' hopes of success.

Lee Moore (2-15), James Kielt (1-15) and Gavin McGeehan (3-6) have produced the kind of finishing power to date that has fired Derry into the decider.

And Aidan Heron has certainly made a handsome contribution, too, even though he has only played in the two games against Laois having been used as a substitute against Cork.

It was Heron's two well-taken goals in the replay against the midlanders that sealed Derry's passage into Sunday's showdown and manager Conway is hoping that he can hit the net again.

"Goals are always important in gaelic football in so much as they not only gain you three points but they can lift a team. We will be keen to hit the net on Sunday should the opportunities arise," says Conway.

Galway's defensive alignment, their mobility around midfield and their ability to put away half-chances up front will certainly test Derry.

But the Ulster side still look to have the hunger, temperament and, most importantly, skill to come out on top.

Belfast Telegraph


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