Wednesday 14 November 2018

Derry say no to change for Galway showdown

NOT changing a winning team was the philosophy employed by Derry selectors in naming an unchanged side to face Galway in the first of the Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Football Championship semi-finals on Sunday.

Derry will field exactly the same team for the third successive encounter.

After a fine performance against Cavan, the Oak Leafers gained revenge for their Ulster championship defeat by dismissing Tyrone in their quarter-final.

"Everyone is fit and ready, and we felt we owed it to the team to leave things as they were," said manager Eamonn Coleman, who appears to have great faith in a young side which includes six players under the age of 22, four of them in attack.

It includes one 19-year-old, highly-promising midfielder Fergal Doherty from Bellaghy, who has proved an able partner for Anthony Tohill in and is seen by many as a star of the future.

"If you take veterans like Gary Coleman, Anthony Tohill and Dermot Dougan out of the team you would be left with one of the youngest sides in the country," said Derry PRO Gerry Donnelly.

"And those three are still only 28 and coming into their prime," he added.

After their Ulster Championship defeat by Tyrone, Derry managed to get their act together with wins over Antrim and Laois. That put them back in the All-Ireland frame before displaying a new momentum and style, first against Cavan, and then when accounting for Tyrone.

Coleman admits he has been surprised by the progress which his youthful side has made in their last couple of matches.

But he's unsure if they have progressed sufficiently to take the scalp of highly experienced Galway.

It's understood the vacancy in the Galway attack is now likely to be filled by Jarlath Fallon, whose state of fitness is improving every day with intensive physiotherapy.

Meanwhile, star Cork wing-back Ciaran O'Sullivan has withdrawn from the Irish squad preparing under manager Brian McEniff for the International Rules series against Australia in early October.

He withdraw because he was unable to give a commitment to both training and the three week trip Down Under. McEniff said yesterday his squad of 26 will be announced soon after the second of the All-Ireland football semi-finals, between Kerry and Meath, on Sunday week.

"We hope to have a final trial before coming to a decision as to which players will be included," said McEniff.

He is being assisted in the preparation of the panel by John O'Keeffe (Kerry), TJ Kilgallon (Mayo) and Paddy Clarke (Louth).

However, the final decisions on selection will be made by the former Donegal player and mentor.

Kildare midfield ace Niall Buckley has made it clear he is extremely keen to make the team which will be bidding to overturn the defeat suffered at the hands of the Aussies at Croke Park last year.

Buckley was busy last weekend, taking part in a McEniff training session on Friday before flying to the USA the next day with full permission from Croke Park and playing a game at Gaelic Park for the Connecticut-based Stamford club.

However, the club with which he played in Chicago before returning to assist Kildare in the Leinster Championship did not have his services.

His former club, St Brendan's were in turn beaten in the North American championship by arch rivals Wolfe Tones, 1-12 to 1-7.

After last year's defeat, McEniff admitted yesterday he is feeling a degree of pressure in an effort to have the best possible team available and prepared to travel to Australia to bring back the spoils.

DERRY (SF v Galway) O McCloskey; G Doherty, SM Lockhart, K McCloy; K McNally, G Coleman, F Crossan; A Tohill, F Doherty; P McFlynn, D Dougan, J McBride; P Bradley, E Muldoon, G Diamond.

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