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Oisin McCloskey

Oisin McCloskey

Collie McGurk: 'I'm delighted with how we performed'

By William Dunne

Derry will make their return to Christy Ring hurling in 2018 after outclassing Armagh in the Nicky Rackard Cup Final.

Derry lost the Christy Ring decider to Kerry in 2015, a match that current manager Collie McGurk attended as a spectator.

After relegation last year McGurk has guided the county to success in the Nicky Rackard final after a 3-23 to 2-15 victory.

“I am delighted with the way the fellas performed”, said McGurk after the win.

“Like at the end of the day you can only perform as well as you’re let play and Armagh had two fellas, like a double sweeper system in front of our two full-forwards in the first-half.

“We went in twelve six up and we knew that if we were going to get anything out of the game we were going to have to let them come at us and leave a bit of space. So I told the players to be patient.

“We pushed Ger Bradley in on the edge of the square because Ger’s got a bit of nip. The goal that he took was fantastic and it really set us up and it meant that Armagh had to push out the field to try and get something out of the game and the space just started to open up inside."

With 14 of the panel on the Slaughtneil team and two playing for Cuala, McGurk never stressed over how the players would handle the occasion.

Derry were not as comfortable at half-time but McGurk says they never panicked and that their squad depth paid dividends in the second-half.

“The game was still in the balance but I just told the players to be patient and that the openings would come. We have a strong bench and that told.

“We were able to introduce Ruairi Convrey, young Cormac O’Doherty, who is a fantastic player for Slaughtneil. And Brian Og (McGilligan) and the other fellas that came in really performed well.

“Yeah I mean there were some cracking bits of play from the teams but I’m just delighted that they performed and gave their word overall as I said.

“We can move on now and look about really taking a lash at the Christy Ring next year.”

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