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There will be more twists and turns in the Oak Leafs' battle for trophy delight, warns McEvoy

John McEvoy

Derry team manager John McEvoy certainly does not have to look too far for the plus factors ahead of his side's re-fixed Allianz Hurling League Division 2B tie against Kildare at Celtic Park on Sunday (2pm).

With Cormac O'Doherty in scintillating scoring form and a defence that is currently offering robust resistance to all comers, McEvoy has considerable cause for optimism as the league nears a climax.

The winners of Sunday's tie are likely to meet Down in the divisional final and an Ulster derby would certainly whet appetites at a time when hurling in the province is on something of a mini roll.

McEvoy for one feels that the force could be with his side against the Lily Whites, who nonetheless will certainly not be quaking in their boots at having to perform in Oak Leaf territory.

"You would have to say that it is extremely tight in Division 2B with very little between the sides overall," maintained former Dublin Under-21 manager McEvoy.

"The fact that we got another win under our belts against Roscommon was encouraging but Kildare will certainly not fear us.

"We know at this stage that it is all to play for and while it would certainly be interesting to meet Down in the final, there could be a lot of twists and turns."

The scoring prowess of O'Doherty to date has been nothing short of inspirational.

The 24-year-old forward's uncanny ability to whip over points from frees and play coupled with his thirst for goals has played a big role in underpinning his team's progress.

If O'Doherty is the go-to man in the Derry attack, then players such as Eoghan Cassidy, Paul Cleary and Odhran McKeever have certainly been doing their share in helping to keep Derry motoring on.

And Brian Og McGilligan is proving a chip off the old block in midfield. His father, Brian snr, won an All-Ireland football medal as Anthony Tohill's midfield partner in 1993 but was also a more than useful exponent of the hurling code.

McGilligan is proving a rich source of possession for a Derry attack that while benefiting considerably from O'Doherty's many-sided talents is also imbued with additional individual flair. In this respect, McKeever has been prominent with his pace and stick work while Jerome McGuigan has also been poaching invaluable scores as the team adheres to its expansive attacking policy.

Darragh McCloskey, too, is capable of rising to the occasion and making a contribution while at the back Sean Cassidy is a tower of strength with Richie Mullan a dynamic force at wing half-back.

All three are capable players, who are more than able to hold their own in any company.

Kildare, for their part, have shown that they are an accomplished side, well versed in hard, physical hurling and because of this Derry can expect a rugged challenge.

The fact that they have not been conceding too much overall - Roscommon scored only 10 points against them last weekend - has helped to keep Derry's confidence boosted but their defence might face a rather more difficult task against the Lily Whites, whose experience and guile could prove invaluable assets.

"Obviously Kildare will be a big test but we have to show that we are able for this if we want to move on and show what we are can do," says manager McEvoy.

Belfast Telegraph