Wednesday 23 August 2017

Kielt warns Derry against final-day collapse

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

DERRY must not fall back to their usual habit after last weekend's stunning victory over Armagh, insists attacking ace James Kielt.

"After a great performance like that we usually collapse the next day," he admitted. "We've put two (wins) together now but there's not much point in getting to finals and losing them. There's four weeks now to the Ulster final and there'll be real hard work until then."

Kielt (21) said breaking their seven-year losing streak in Ulster semi-finals will give the Oak Leafers great confidence and he was particularly heartened by the manner which they bounced back after Armagh hit them with a goal immediately on the restart.

His older brother Charlie (23) started at centre-back but the younger Kielt's inability to hold down a regular place in new manager John Brennan's team this year has been something of a talking point. But he did not disappoint when he was named as a pre-match replacement for Caolan O'Boyle last weekend.

"I didn't get on the last day (against Fermanagh) and was very disappointed but I knew I could get my chance if I played well in training and thankfully I did," he said.

He revealed how Brennan has managed to bring unity to the Derry squad who have often been accused of being too individualistic.

"Everybody in Derry knows the crack with John, he's a fairly old-school manager," Kielt said. "He'd go out and have a pint with the lads but he's a great manager. If the chips are down he'll put his arm around you and tell you you're a great footballer and that you just need to work at it.

"He lets you go out and play football," Kielt added. "I'm not saying other managers don't let you do that, but he's supportive if you make a great run or a great pass or something.

"He doesn't criticise you for not playing it here or there, he lets you do your stuff and mostly that's about playing to your strength and defending your weaknesses.

"Putting two big performances together now is the thing," he said ahead of the Ulster final where they'll play Tyrone or Donegal.

"We beat Tyrone in the league but that was at the start of it and, come summer, they're a different ball-game... Donegal beat us convincingly enough in the league and they're in the same boat as ourselves, haven't won Ulster since the '90s.

"But, under Jim McGuinness, they've developed a ruthless steak so whoever we meet it's going to be a massive challenge."

Irish Independent

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