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Damian McErlain proud of his Derry despite last-eight departure

Kerry 1-24 Derry 2-10

By John Campbell

When a Kerry side at any level hit a purple patch, then opponents invariably discover that there is simply no hiding place.

A gallant but technically inferior Derry minor team found that out.

Yesterday, the prospect of a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals loomed large when they enjoyed parity of esteem at half-time - but they found themselves engulfed in a green and gold scoring tsunami after the break.

Oak Leaf manager Damian McErlain made no excuses for their exit afterwards.

"We were in the game at half-time because we knew that if we ran at them we might get goals but when we gave the ball away, Kerry proved massively clinical when it came to finishing," said McErlain.

"They are a very good side and I think they can go and win the All-Ireland minor title. I feel we have made big progress ourselves and I am proud of my players."

The artistry of skipper Sean O'Shea, the twin scoring talents of David Clifford and David Shaw and an unrelenting team effort ultimately combined to usher Derry into oblivion

Yet when Patrick Quigg and Feargal Higgins topped off smash and grab raids by plundering goals in the 13th and 29th minutes, Derry looked to be on a solid footing even though O'Shea had already stockpiled half a dozen Kerry points and Clifford had sounded a health warning.

At 2-6 to 0-12, the game was in the melting pot at the half-way stage but gradually became the property of the Kingdom as O'Shea touched home his team's only goal in the 32nd minute and Shaw racked up four points between the 38th and 42nd minutes.

It was then the turn of Clifford to plunge Derry into even deeper woe, his three points in the final quarter complementing the brace he had landed earlier.

Just one Kerry point in all came from a free - a huge testament to their adventurous spirit.

Caolan Devlin's accuracy from frees, Patrick Coney's enterprising efforts at midfield and Patrick Quigg's industry sustained Derry's challenge for the most part but when Kerry were in full flow after the break, the Ulster side's defence simply could not shackle them.

Higgins (2) and Devlin landed late scores for Derry but it was Kerry, slowing the game down to walking pace on occasions, who eventually ambled into the last four of the All-Ireland race.

"They are physically fit and strong and Kerry football is in a good place," added McErlain.

On yesterday's evidence, few will argue with that.

Derry: B McKinless; C McCluskey, G McLaughlin, A Bradley; P McGrogan 0-1, E Concannon, S McErlain; P Coney 0-3, C Doherty; S Higgins 0-1, C Devlin 0-3 (all frees), P Quigg 1-0; S Downey, F Higgins 1-2 (1f), E Bradley. Subs: O McKeever for Concannon (33), O McWilliams for Downey (36), S Mortimer for McLaughlin (42), R Young for Downey (44), L Kielt for Bradley (50), J P Devlin for McCluskey (53).

Kerry: B Courtney; D Naughton, N Collins, G O'Sullivan 0-1, M Potts 0-1, D O'Brien 0-1, M Foley; M Breen 0-1, M Ryan 0-1; D Moynihan 0-1, S O'Shea 1-6 (1f), D Shaw 0-5; D Clifford 0-5, B Sweeney, F O'Brien. Subs: B Friel 0-1 for O'Brien (half-time), C Teahan 0-1 for Sweeney (44), S Okunbar for Ryan (53), K Dwyer for Potts (55), C Linnane for Moynihan (58), T McConnell for Clifford (60).

Yellow card: O'Sullivan (35).

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