Dramatic League title for Derry

Photo: GAA

In fairness, this year’s National League didn’t end with a whimper.

If I’m around when the Division One final is on, I often take a stroll down to Croke Park to see it. I’d half-planned to do so for today’s decider between Dublin and Derry but as, it turned out, I had to head west this afternoon so I only caught some of the the game on the radio. It sounds like I missed a bit of a classic.

Derry would surely have been kicking themselves if they’d lost today’s League final. Twice they’d propelled themselves into winning positions but in both normal time and again in extra time they somehow contrived to cede late scores which enabled Dublin to stave off defeat.

And so, for the first time ever in a national title decider, the dreaded penalty shootout had to be used to decide the winners. In fairness, this yielded a definitive outcome, with Derry having two spot-kicks to spare as they won the shootout 3-1.

Even though their victory over the Dubs only came via penalties, the victory – and the silverware that goes with it – will, you’d have to think, stand to the Oak Leaf County. Sure, they now have the bear-pit of an Ulster Championship campaign to negotiate, with a quarter-final against Donegal in three weeks time and, if they win that one, a semi-final, most likely against Tyrone, a week after that.

With back-to-back Ulster titles and All-Ireland semi-final appearances, a National League title and one of the canniest managers in the business, the Oak Leafers have a lot going for them right now. Along with Dublin and Kerry, they can with justification – despite what’s facing them in Ulster – be seen as one of the few counties who are in pole position to claim the Sam Maguire this year.

Derry were likely League winners this year from a good way out. But they still had to go out and do it and today, after a few bouts of the yips, that’s what they did. Well done to them on their win.

44 thoughts on “Dramatic League title for Derry

  1. Great game. Delighted they won. They were so entertaining and some of their moves and tackles were just cheeky. But….they wanted it, never gave up, frustrated the other team…watch dublin players faces at key moments. We are missing that belief
    I have faith in Mayo going forward. I am looking forward to the championship. We have the skill
    We just need to see more drive and want.

  2. I don’t think they’ll be scrapping the league final in favour of table toppers taking the spoils any time soon,after today’s fare!
    Hopefully it’s an omen for what we can expect in the upcoming championship.

  3. Imagine Mayo played liked Derry, Dublin and Kerry. You rarely see those teams pass the ball sideways around the half forward line. Derry and Dublin in particular are fantastic to watch.

  4. Agreed Wilbury. But the good thing is that the top teams are playing much more expansive football now and so to win a big championship game in reasonable weather you need to score about 1-16. And I think Mayo will have learned a lot by watching that game of how far off they are. Question is can they bridge the gap.

  5. Plenty of sideways stuff and back passing to the keeper in that game and in all games at the weekend. The div 3 and 4 teams were at it big time. And speaking of which, both Leitrim and Westmeath are out again in the championship- fifth week in a row.

  6. Fenton wasn’t disinterested, I think after Derry’s 2nd goal the Dubs lost confidence but regained to afterwards, Derry goalie sent a risky kickout for the equaliser.
    More so Glass was too good for Fenton on the Day and Rodgers ran riot for most of the 2nd half.
    Derry are contenders even if they lose Ulster which odds are they will as it’s perilous. Their main risk is weaker panel so can’t afford injuries to any star men. Also no 12 didn’t look like he’d make the Mayo team so Derry have stars but also less options this year but they are no 1/2 right now for Sam, probably 2 as Dubs missed McCarthy and McCaffrey. Mannion looked off but may just be a one off. Kieran K not that influential. No Costello — injured?
    Final goal was a freak but 2 defenders went the wrong way, would other top 6 teams do that?

  7. Great entertainment for March alright and hopefully the neutrals will see more of it this spring/summer. Being objective and studying the body language of both teams, I’m unsure if the Dubs were too bothered afterwards. Granted, there were some poor personal performances in their team which might cause concern if it’d been championship, however, looking at the Dubs teamsheet it most certainly wasn’t.
    Mayo and others might have a bigger say than the naysayers think in the coming months.
    The real fun is about to begin.

  8. Funny that when Mayo were playing adventurous, attacking football they were naive and the defensive, ball retention bs was the way to go.

  9. A good game and the better team won on the day. I liked the way both teams played. Derry carry a big scoring threat from their defence. Have won McKenna Cup, topped League 1, won League final. Their club team also won All Ireland. They have an extremely difficult Ulster championship to negotiate before they enter the All Ireland series. While Micky has strengthened the depth of the squad, I still think they could struggle a bit if hit with injuries. A remarkable 10 years for them. Played in Div 1 league final in 2014, then sank to Div 4 winning that league final in 2019, before making it to Div 1 this year and winning the league yesterday. Some achievement

  10. Derry have a full deck. Best mid-field pairing in the Country who both score. A very good defensive system where there always seem to be 2 men facing down the player in possession, a big confident ball playing keeper and most importantly, scoring options from attack and up front….and now they know they can beat Dubs in CP…
    Wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the exit stage left out of Ulster and wait for the important stuff….
    That final was important for the game as there’s a lot of negativity around football at the moment.
    It was no harm to see a few frustrated faces in the hill either…

  11. One wonders will Dr Brolly tell his county men to throw there medals in the Foyle ?

  12. Very unsporting comment by GAA President in his speech as he presented the cup to Donegal. Hopefully they repeat the lesson to Armagh in the Championship!

  13. Very structured defensive system. Each forward dropping back seem to shadow a particular defender so there’s always a defender plus cover.
    Great vision going forward. They seemed to work out very quickly where Dublin left gaps and weren’t afraid to exploit them.
    Strength in depth there too. Gareth McKinless to come back, McEvoy will probably move to wing half back but it will be some half back line.

  14. Here’s a thought. Derry could come a cropper against Donegal, we could win Connaught and get Derry as our number three.

  15. I actually don’t think Dubs were at their 100% best even though they nearly won but derry were at full tilt. Dubs will be pleased by the result not playing at their top best yet still nearly beating derry who were at full tilt and I think there’s no way they can keep the tempo up.

    Dubs have been going 100 miles an hour during league and looked tired in parts of the game I thought.

    I still think this year is more open then a lot think and do think Galway will come back with a bounce with some of their players to return and of course the same with ourselves.

    Armagh I think will also be a dark horse. It’s dubs, Derry, kerry, mayo, Galway and armagh maybe donegal that’ll be near the business end.

    Looking forward to new York game!

  16. Is there a one week gap between last 16 and quarter final again this year? It almost ruined the QF’s (us and Tyrone) with 2nd half performances bar Monaghan as the outlier hanging in long enough to win their QF.
    I’m absolutely convinced we’d have given a way better account of ourselves but for that schedule. If I recall right, Monaghan who were not as good as us stayed close enough to the Dubs in the semi.
    The problem is recovery for Amateur players who go back to work for the week. Super athletes as fit and strong as many premier league players but without the big money and schedule capability to recover within a 6/7 days. The 6 day turnaround did for us in the 2015 SF Replay with Dubs not having two additional 3 hour coach rides across the Country and availing of cryo chamber for their recovery.

  17. I should have said last 12. Maybe they should go with either 8 or 16 with seedings instead of 12.

  18. Ad usual P.Spillane spot on with his picking of winners in the national league finals…I wonder who’s his pick for the Irish National today?

  19. Derry deserve great credit for that win yesterday.They showed serious mental strength and this idea that Dublin weren’t at their “top best “ whatever that means is very begrudging.Brian Fenton was outplayed yesterday and the frustration got the better of him something we haven’t seen before.on the form we showed through out the league we would not have got close to Dublin or Derry yesterday .Micky Harte has won threes all Irelands and knows only too well how to prepare a team.

  20. Clare, I totally agree with your analysis of the game yesterday. If anything, the narrative has changed and the likes of Brolly and company will switch their platitudes to Derry which entirely suits Farrell etc.
    l firmly believe McStay learned from last yrs campaign that staying well out of the limelight is the way to go. Nobody was talking Dublin up last year and we all know what happened in the end.
    It’s not as straightforward as the pundits claim at all, and Connacht could yet throw more than one spanner in the works come the business end. I’m of the opinion the Dubs will most certainly be the team to topple further down the line, not Derry.

  21. @1985 no one said Derry didn’t derserve their win I certainly didn’t either I was giving an honest opinion. And it’s hardly begrudging to say dubs weren’t at their top best form which they clearly weren’t. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion and fair play to derry they did their deserve their win but I certainly wasn’t being begrudging.

    @Mark dempsey yeah exactly agree with you to!

  22. Dublin obviously are still the team to beat as defending all Ireland champions but they were outplayed yesterday.their form yesterday was determined by Derry outplaying them in several positions where they normally dominate.No doubt though that Derry are serious contenders

  23. @ Clare, I don’t buy into Derry were at full tilt. How do you know there is not a lot more to come from Derry in the championship. Their big players, and they are not short of them, stood up, they were without McKinless, who tore us apart while he was on the field, and their substitutions did not weaken the team in any shape. They have the ability to quiten marquee players and as another poster pointed out, they have mental strength and believe they are winners, the Mickey Harte effect, who gave a lovely interview, putting it all into perspective, after the game
    Dublin will no doubt progress with the season, but don’t tell me they enjoy losing. There will be a few blue ‘boys in blue’ in Dublin today.

  24. @ontheditch fair enough but dubs were missing some of their main guys also.

    Of course dubs don’t enjoy loosing. I hate seeing the dubs dominate just as much as everyone else and as I said fair play to derry they are a top class side and big contenders but weather they can keep the tempo up we will shall see.

    Still think Dubs will come back stronger then ever come championship I can’t really see past them for sam from any other county to be honest atm anyway. Maybe Derry if they can keep the fitness levels up of course but it’s been proven before you cant go 100 miles an hour in March and last till summer time will tell.

  25. I know you don’t like rumours Willie Joe but I heard from a very reliable source this morning that Andy Moran is set to rejoin the Mayo senior panel this week. Seems when he went to Leitrim his goal was to get Leitrim to division three and now that he has achieved he is stepping away from Leitrim. Says he wants to have one more crack at winning an all Ireland with Mayo. A joint statement by Mayo and Leitrim GAA expected later today to confirm this.
    Can’t see him starting for Mayo – but will be a great player to bring on with 20 minutes to go.
    Welcome back Andy.

  26. Kerry went 100 miles an hour in the league in 2022, jack o Connor first year back, were at near championship pace v mayo in the league final and still won the all Ireland a few months later. Admittedly they fell over the line v galway in the final , as the long season took its toll on them. It’s hard to do but Kerry that year showed it can be done..

  27. Truth is this Dublin team is not as formidable as they were and Derry did a number on them in several key positions but to think Dublin were in full-on championship mode for yesterday’s game is very naive. Farrell threw on Mannion who has hardly played at all since last yrs final- not a good managerial move to make-unless you were more concerned about giving him game time versus actually winning the thing. His later subs comprised of two very new young lads which was totally about getting them used to the cauldron of pressure that awaits them later.
    Derry are very good, no doubt, but under no circumstances was that Dublin at full tilt. Fenton’s meltdown was more to do with Comerfords kick outs than lahiff being out of position for every kick out. When McCarthy shores up that half back line it’s showtime.
    The Dubs did look knackered because they had to go full tilt from game 3 on to stay in Div 1 but no need to stay in top gear when you’re facing Kildare and Longford in the coming weeks- no disrespect intended.
    Fair play to Derry and no begrudgery here whatsoever. Like Kerry, Dublin have defensive issues, but somehow both of them find a way to nullify that on big occasions. Yesterday wasn’t one I wouldn’t think if I were Dessie Farrell. It all makes this Sam campaign interesting at least!

  28. @Soutmayo Exile. It would be great to have Andy back, but sure look it isn’t today April 1st.

  29. Would still fancy the Dubs to win a rematch against Derry in the summer.

  30. Watched all the games back there , jeez you cannot beat a quick 30 yard plus foot pass into a forward that can win his own ball .

  31. 1985 – Derry only won on penalties yesterday. We actually beat Dublin during the league. Would you give us credit for that or were Dublin not at their best?

  32. You’re right Wide Ball. We should be savouring that win. Don’t care what state Dubs were in, it was there for them to win it down the home straight against us and they didn’t. We reversed a mauling in our previous games. Small things but we should be capable of using them.

  33. Jack McCaffrey was outstanding in the first half against us but barely played since.

    For what it’s worth I don’t think Dublin were at their best yesterday. Con and Kilkenny were ripping it up the last few weeks and both were held scoreless from play. Can’t see that happening again.

  34. Doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win .Of course mayo deserve credit for beating Dublin.what I said is that Derry made Dublin look ordinary yesterday.I didn’t say Derry won because Dublin weren’t at there best.i don’t think mayo played particularly well that night against Dublin but we managed to get the win .

  35. Lads, in the heat of Sam Maguire championship battle, we will see who comes through, that melee yesterday told me that there is unfinished business between the Dubs and Derry, could be a prelude to the final.
    Unfortunately Mayo are no where near the final this year as other said a good semi final performance with a loss is probably the most that should be expected, Derry have a few subs to bring on, they didn’t have this last year, the Dubs have older guys to call on also.

  36. The Derry kick out was impressive and yet so simple. Lot to be said for it. The Derry defense is very good. They will be hard to beat. Dublin will be hard to beat. We can learn a lot from the game. If we can improve the kick out and tighten up in defence we will go a long way. Still think Swanee is a half forward. He can score and can lay off passes that could give us goal scoring chances.

  37. Would not make too much from our league win against Dublin THey had just been beaten by Monaghan who failed to get another win in the leagueBoth sides looked impressive yesterday and showed us we have a lot of ground to make upWe could learn a lot from kick out strategies and forward movement to receive the kick pass with us it is usually a 50/50 ball or into traffic
    The Derry defence is good but they can be exposed for quich goal chances THeir midfield and attacking back line is excellent

  38. Of all the years I haven’t a clue where we are at. Wouldn’t surprise me if we limped tamely out of the connaught championship and imploded in the qualifiers. That said it wouldn’t surprise me either if we ended up in an All Ireland. Would we win it? No. But then no one would, not Derry or Kerry, because it will be Dublin again sorry to say. Also believe Dublin would have had another All Ireland if Con had not been injured in Semi when Kerry held on to win it.

  39. I believe that Mayo will be very competitive,we won’t be afraid of anyone in the championship

  40. Dead right Corick.
    ‘There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.’..as JFK or someone said one time.

  41. The championship is about building momentum. I’d have us favourites for Connaught based on having time to prepare to Ros after hopefully beating NY well and Ros going down. Galway are behind us mostly because of the number of big names injured. If we win that we’re a No. 1 seed, probably the weakest of those but if we can win our group and not blow it, we give ourselves A great chance of winning a QF. At that point hopefully we’ll have momentum and a few players playing at a marquee level.
    That said the marquee players were kept reasonably quiet yesterday and Tyrone showed the same damage limitation capability vs Kerry in 2021. Clifford was pressured enough to have an off game in last year’s final.
    We do see some of the year 2 and 3 players like Carney and Tuohy get more confidence in their ability. Is Carney as good as Galway’s Tierney and Cooke .. not yet. These lads have ability especially Tuohy who can really shoot, field high and cross country stamina with very good pace. We also need inside fellas playing like McCurry, Canavan and McGuigan. Again the ability could be there to do damage but too often it’s only Ryan. Maybe management could try a few wildcard tactics especially if playing weak seed 3 and 4 teams should the draw give us that option. I wouldn’t worry too much about the league as enough experimental lineups were tried and we stayed up, more about setting up a good system especially in defence. The return of Diarmaid could help with that.

  42. Regardless of whether Dublin or Derry were at full tilt, they will both be there at the business end of the Championship and will probably meet in the final, if they avoid each other. We know all about Dublin and they will get better and peak at the right time. I’m afraid anyone trying to make a realistic case for Mayo, based on our win over them in the league is deluding themselves-Dublin have improved significantly since early in the league-they were beaten by Monaghan in Croke Park for God’s sake and we know what happened to Monaghan. Derry are well organized, with a good structure, strong in most sectors, have a good kick-out strategy, have size and strength and have a strong central spine. They have good footballers, many with strong scoring potential. On the other hand, we have weaknesses, especially in that central spine and particularly at CHB, midfield and full-forward. Watching the games over the weekend, it struck me how important it is to have a strong, physical, ball winning, high scoring full-forward, which we lack. Look at the importance of McGuigan, O’Callaghan, Gallen at Donegal and O’Carroll at Laois. I don’t know what the problem is in Mayo, as we seem to have plenty of tall strong young lads in the county-I see them regularly when I go out for a few pints. How come other counties are producing them? Is there some weakness in our underage system? Maybe special focus should be placed on developing some of our bigger young lads as potential full-forwards, thro’specialized coaching etc. in our underage system. Possibly too much time, in general, is spent on systems, structures, tactics etc., at underage level, instead of concentrating Firstly on the basic skills of Gaelic Football.

  43. It reminded me a lot of Mayo chaos matches over the years. I couldn’t get over how loose defensively Dublin was and were lucky they didn’t concede 6/7 goals. It will be back to the old guard again for Dessie Farrell after that display and the bigger long term question is where will Dublin be once they can no longer rely on the old guard (all retired)

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