BY RONAN SCOTT
Christy Ring Cup round three
Derry v Wicklow
Saturday, Owenbeg, 3pm
Derry have the chance to settle a score this weekend when they take on Wicklow, in round three of the Christy Ring Cup.
The Leinster side beat the Oak Leafers in the Division 2B league final, denying them promotion.
A win for Derry this weekend, would also send them through to the knockout stages of the Christy Ring Cup as leaders.
Derry hurling captain Sean Cassidy said: “We know ourselves it is going to be a tough game. It was nip and tuck [when we played them] in the league.
“We were pleased with the way we performed and we are looking forward to it.”
But just because they are in top spot does not mean that they are certain of going through.
“Last year Down were in the same position as ourselves but we got through on scoring difference and they didn’t,” Cassidy said.
“We are hoping to finish either first or second in the group.”
The group one division is finely balanced. Derry are in the lead on four points, Down and Wicklow have two points each, and Donegal have no points. All four still have a mathematical chance to progress. Wicklow need to win in order to progress through and they will fancy themselves to do so having beaten Derry twice in the league this year, in round five and in the division 2B final.
“Ourselves and Wicklow would know each other brave and well. It has been nip and tuck. We missed a lot of chances and that was the difference. They have some very good forwards, like Andy O’Brien. He is their target man. We will be trying our best to keep him quiet. But their whole team works hard for each other. They have good players all over the field.
“In the league final I thought that we left it behind us. We would have been critical of our performance in that game.
“But our boys are looking forward to it. We are focused on the game.”
Derry will be full strength for this game.
Cormac O’Doherty, their first choice free taker had missed the early stages of the season, but he has played a few games so far and should be sharp for this match.
While O’Doherty was missing, Richie Mullan stepped up to plate, and he has added further evidence that he is a player who relishes the intercounty game.
Cassidy said that John McEvoy, the new Derry manager has brought a new lease of life to the team.
“He has brought a professionalism to the team. It is the most professional approach that I have been involved in. He is able to get a lot out of the players.”