Wednesday 16 January 2019

Derry boss Brennan hails forwards after big win over Armagh

DERRY manager John Brennan believes that if his team play like they did in yesterday's 3-14 to 1-11 Ulster SFC semi-final win over Armagh, they can beat anyone.

The cheery 69-year-old insists his team are afraid of no one as they prepare for their first senior provincial final in 11 years.

"I'm repeating myself, like I was all last week, it's like an old LP with a faulty needle," he quipped when he was asked how his team had so spectacularly overwhelmed the favourites.

"We went out there today and played attacking football.

"You play to your strengths and we have natural ball players inside," he stressed.

"We scored three goals and our inside forwards -- Conleth, Eoin and Mark -- well, we can't add any more superlatives; they've said it all, they produced it."


Derry haven't won Ulster since 1998 but as Brennan confidently said: "If we play like that we'll possibly beat anybody. I said if Derry got over this line today we'll be there later this year and I repeat that."

Eoin Bradley and Conleth Gilligan shot down Orchard hopes with a combined total of 2-10, while Mark Lynch weighed in with 1-2.

Armagh, who had overcome last year's All-Ireland finalists, Down, to reach this semi-final, never led, and never looked like overhauling their dominant opponents.

Winning the midfield battle through Joe Diver, Michael Friel and Enda Muldoon, Derry dominated the first-half and went in at the break with a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage.

But Armagh made an explosive start to the second half, with Micheal O'Rourke planting the ball in the bottom corner of Devlin's net from McDonnell's incisive offload.

Now just two points separated the sides, but the Oak Leafers stepped on the gas once again, and when Bradley nipped in behind Andy Mallon to collect James Kielt's superb delivery and blast to the net in the 47th minute, they were on their way.

Armagh did respond with a string of points from McDonnell and Charlie Vernon, but the game was out of sight when Gilligan raced through from Lynch's pass to drill the ball past Paul Hearty for a third goal.

Gilligan tapped over another couple of frees to bring his tally to 1-5, a target Bradley had also reached when he was called ashore to a huge ovation with five minutes to play.

It was exhibition stuff from Brennan's men in the closing stages, as they stroked the ball about, and picked off a few late scores at their leisure, and a deflated Armagh team began to contemplate an uncertain future in the qualifiers.

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