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Martin Boyle hoping Derry can flourish in All-Ireland minor final


Derry's Matthew Downey

Derry's Matthew Downey

©INPHO/John McVitty

Derry's Matthew Downey

The Derry senior football team may have exited the Ulster stage having earned fresh respect, but today it is the turn of the county’s minor team to step into the spotlight.

They will meet Kerry in the 2020 All-Ireland Minor Championship Final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore (1pm) with the Kingdom, a major force at minor level for several years, carrying the favourites tag.

But Oak Leaf boss Martin Boyle insists his side remain undaunted as they bid to give their county a further boost in what has been an encouraging season.

“These boys are not just happy to have reached the Final, now that they are here they want to win it,” declares Boyle. “They showed their character and skill in beating a good Monaghan side in the Ulster Final and then got the better of Meath in the All-Ireland Semi-Final so you could say they are used to big challenges.”

Certainly Derry are not short on pace, work rate and finishing skills. They have shown themselves to be a well-organised, competent side that adhere to an attacking policy and are also capable of making life difficult for opposition attacks.

But they will be up against a formidable Kerry front line. Keith Evans and Darragh O’Sullivan have been in particularly hot form for Kerry and the fact that they beat Roscommon by 3-21 to 2-13 at the Semi-Final stage speaks volumes.

Derry, though, are not short on accomplished marksmen. Matthew Downey, Lachlan Murray, Dan Higgins and Niall O’Donnell all fit comfortably into this category while Patrick O’Kane and Eoin McEvoy are other key players.

Derry’s ability to mount rapid counter-thrusts and their penchant for taking points from distance could stand them in good stead, although maintaining defensive discipline will be a priority.

The Ulster champions’ progress to date has helped to fashion a special bond within the side and this has shone through but today represents the acid test.

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