Oak Leafs determined to take shot at redemption, says Forester
Waterford v Derry, All-Ireland Qualifiers Round 1a: Dungarvan, Today, 3.00pm
Derry go into today's All-Ireland football qualifier against Waterford conscious that victory could light the torch for a run that might conceivably take them into the quarter-finals.
The Oak Leaf side just missed out on a place in the last eight last year when they were beaten by a point by Tipperary in Round 4A of the qualifiers but even though they have lacked conviction this term, Damian Barton's side still retain the belief that they can thrive down the qualifier route.
Neil Forester missed the Ulster Championship defeat to Tyrone earlier this month but is available for today's clash while skipper Enda Lynn has also recovered from injury, thus providing the manager with a welcome dual boost.
Forester certainly does not pull his punches in outlining the difficult backdrop against which Derry enter today's tie.
"To be honest, we need a confidence boost at the moment. This season has been almost identical to last year, reaching the McKenna Cup final, a relegation fight and a tough defeat to Tyrone but last year we so nearly reached Croke Park at the end of that," he pointed out. "We feel that the talent is there within the side, we just have to apply it and get over the line against Waterford first and foremost."
Not so long ago, a trip to Waterford would have been nothing more than a formality for Derry but it will be a lot different today.
Waterford were unfortunate to lose to Cork by a point (1-12 to 1-11) in a tense Munster Championship quarter-final and boast fine players in skipper Paul Whyte, Tom Prendergast, Michael Curry, Gavin Crotty and goalkeeper Shane Enright.
They are expected to employ a defensive strategy today with perhaps two sweepers in the hope of restricting Derry, particularly in the early stages, and then hitting them on the break.
"We have to be ready for this but there is a good spirit in this Derry side despite that defeat to Tyrone and we know that this is the beginning of our road to redemption. We aim to make the most of it," added Forester.
"We have a good idea of how we want to play. We obviously struggled against Tyrone but they are a very slick operation. We need to be breaking these types of defences in the modern game.
"We have still been able to rack up some decent scores in the league against the likes of Kildare, who are a very good team. We need to get back to that type of football where we have that outlet in the forward line and can work opportunities from which we can take scores and thus win games."
Manager Barton is expected to deploy resources from his bench in order to give players game time but the challenge for his side will be to return home with a measure of pride restored and their competitive edge further sharpened for an extension of their season.