By Michael McMullan
DERRY take their 100 per cent record to Ennis this weekend as they bid for back-to-back promotions.
Rory Gallagher’s side have conceded a mere 20 points across their wins over Down, Offaly and Cork to date, on the back of the best score difference across all four divisions.
It’s the first meeting of the counties since James Kielt earned a draw with the last kick of a 1-8 to 0-11 draw at Celtic Park in 2017.
Only Benny Heron and Niall Loughlin remain from the players used by Damian Barton that day, with Banner boss Colm Collins having used five of those players in their games so far this season.
Derry are the only team in the current Division Two to have played in all four divisions of the league, with Clare’s consistency backed up with their sixth consecutive season in the second tier.
Shane McGuigan’s 1-15 (12 frees) tally in Derry’s six games this year leads he scoring charts, with Niall Loughlin 2-8 (including four from placed balls) and Lachlan Murray 0-7 giving the Oakleafers an added dimension to their attack.
Derry look set to be without Karl McKaigue for the season through injury, with Gareth McKinless and Ciaran McFaul both missing out on Sunday.
However, the addition of Conor McCluskey has bolstered Derry’s defensive options with an impressive start to the season. Oisin McWilliams started just his second league game and put his hand up for a regular run in the team as Gallagher begins to grow his options.
After not featuring against Offaly, captain Chrissy McKaigue backed up his marking job of Barry O’Hagan by coming out on top against Brian Hurley.
Sunday’s trip to Ennis and unbeaten Clare coming back from three points down to grab a deserved draw in Roscommon will perk up the Derry ears this week.
If McKaigue, McCluskey, Odhran Lynch and Brendan Rogers can continue their mean form in defence, Derry have what it take to notch another win.
MORE…McFlynn hopeful of promotion hopes. Click here…