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McErlain calling on fans to help struggling Derry beat the drop


By John Campbell

Derry football boss Damian McErlain is hoping that the county's normally lukewarm supporters will get behind his side when they endeavour to take what could prove a big step in their rehabilitation process on Sunday.

McErlain's men simply cannot afford to lose against Wexford at Celtic Park or against Sligo at Markievicz Park on Sunday week if they are to have any chance of surviving in Division Three.

Indeed, the very thought of life in Division Four would be disastrous for a side more accustomed to participation in promotion races and league title bids.

But with two points from five outings, the Oak Leaf men go in against pointless Wexford aware that a further loss would seal their fate.

And that's where McErlain says the fans can play their part.

"If the supporters get behind us as I know they can then we will have an even better chance of staying up," insisted McErlain. "Last weekend when we played Armagh, we saw how the crowd at the Athletic Grounds lifted their side in the second half and I think we stand to benefit if we receive similar support."

If previous matches exposed a fragility at Derry's core, then the clash with the Orchard County triggered untold frustration.

Not only was McErlain unhappy with his team's play but he was also less than impressed with some of the decisions of referee Derek O'Mahoney.

"It was probably the most frustrating experience I have had as a manager but hopefully we can come good this Sunday," said McErlain.

Like his Armagh counterpart Kieran McGeeney, he could only look on helplessly as players exited the inter-county scene before a ball was kicked this year but, to his credit, McErlain has now pieced together a side clearly yearning to protect their current status.

Emmett Bradley's formidable presence at midfield, the efficiency of Kevin Johnston and Carlus McWilliams at the back and the threat posed by Mark Lynch and James Kielt up front undoubtedly offer the team as a whole encouragement to parade their A game on a more frequent basis than usual.

The Oak Leafs have had too many threadbare afternoons this year - now McErlain wants his players to step up and be counted in no uncertain fashion.

"We know what we have to do and our fate is in our own hands," declared McErlain.

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