A NUMBER of U-21 successes during the middle part of the last decade created a determination in Derry to make a mark at senior.
This was highlighted in 2007 with this strong performance in the Ulster semi-final.
Antrim, of course, were the dominant side of the period, but both Derry and Down entered their penultimate clash with genuine ambitions. Ultimately, though, most of the attention in this game focused on Ruairi Convery.
He led the scoring stakes for them with the grand total of 11 points. It was also his last gasp free which earned the Oak Leafers a deserved draw.
The tie had been understandably close throughout and Down led by the minimum margin at the break. Their challenge was led by Gareth Johnston, Brendan McGourty and Fintan Conway.
However, for all their efforts, Derry led by a point, 0-14 to 1-10, entering the closing stages and looked to be on the verge of victory.
Down responded thanks to Gareth Johnston and Jerome Trainor to go ahead, before Ruairi Convery sealed Derry their second chance.
Few of the minor players who lined out that day have made a really big impact at senior level. Derry’s U-21 success that season wasn’t matched at minor where Down easily won the curtain-raiser on a score of 2-13 to 0-8.
Team captain, Conor Woods, spearheaded their challenge and there were also strong performances from Malachy Magee and Keith O’Neill, as Paddy Henry top scored for Derry with six points.
JOHN Clarke believes Down are well-positioned to overcome fierce rivals Armagh in their Ulster Championship quarter-final at Pairc Esler...