It’s midweek already and so in the midst of this helter-skelter period of matches we’re already counting down to the next one, which see us taking on Derry up at Celtic Park on Sunday. Throw-in for this one is at the slightly later time of 2.30pm, as it’s a double-header with the 12.45pm curtain-raiser featuring the Oakleafers against Carlow in a hurling League encounter.
This will be our first outing up in the Walled City since 2010, a match where we recorded our first win in their territory since 1984 and, as far as I know, the only ever win we’ve secured at Sunday’s venue in Celtic Park. We lost there in a League match in 2008, they pretty much handed us our arses in a Championship qualifier clash there in 2007 and we also lost to them the previous time we played them there in the League back in 1999.
Derry were relegated from Division One in 2010 and so our paths didn’t cross for a few years but we made up for lost time last year, when we met them twice in successive weeks in the League. We recorded a handy win over their B team at MacHale Park in early April but then went down by two points to their As seven days later in a semi-final meeting up in Croke Park.
That HQ loss was put to Keith Higgins in a piece in today’s Irish Independent, where the skipper pretty much dismissed the rather daft notion that our trip North this weekend could in any sense be construed as a revenge mission. It’s only a bloody League match for gawdsakes.
It’s not a trip I’ll be making, by the way, as we’ve a family Confirmation on Friday, another one (a niece’s one) the day after and then I’m off on my travels again early on Monday morning. Barrelling up to Derry and back on Sunday would be a tad OTT, I reckon, so, like the U21s, I’m being released from this one (and the Dublin one too but that’s another story).
While I’m on the topic of my busy schedule, that early morning departure on Monday means you’ll have to go rooting for the match reports yourselves that morning. I know, I know – between the site keeling over with carefully crafted comments getting wiped and now anticipated post-match content not happening, the place is going to pot at the minute. Such is life, though.
Back to the football where, as discussed yesterday, we’ll be short a number of regulars on Sunday and look set to name a team – which is due to be announced tomorrow night – featuring at least four changes from the one that took the field against Monaghan the last day. Derry will still be without the Slaughtneil contingent, with Chrissy McKaigue the most prominent absentee from that bunch, but they will have Mark Lynch available again following suspension.
The bookies have us chalked down as narrow 8/11 favourites to win this one but, 2010 aside, our record up there isn’t great while their need for League points is so I think we can expect a real battle on Sunday. Will we do it? Time to test the waters on this one.