Derry boss Paul Mc Iver will have his troops well prepared for their Ulster semi final clash with Tyrone on Saturday. One man he will know particularly well is Dromore’s Ruairi Sludden who plays his club football with Dromore. Mc Iver of course is the current manager of the county champions and as such possesses a unique insight into the quality and ability of the present Tyrone side. Teamtalkmag.com caught up with Ruairi ahead of the game and spoke to him about this year’s minor campaign.
The Armagh game was a big test Ruairi, for a while it was not looking good but the team showed lots of character to come back from seven down……
Ruairi: It’s hard to understand why we started so badly against Armagh. We prepared for the game as normal and everything seemed fine. Maybe nerves were a problem but it didn’t feel like a problem before the game. In fairness you would have to give credit to Armagh they are a very good team and were absolutely flying early on and we had to pull out all the stops to beat them. We have discussed the Armagh game including the slow start so hopefully it doesn’t happen again.
Thankfully against Armagh we had the determination to battle our way back into the game, Daire made a couple of great saves and Sparky, Hackett and Boco were able to get the vital scores.
Mickey and Kieran have told us all year to keep playing and working hard regardless of the score in the game. They tell us before games to concentrate on working as hard as we can and the scoreboard will sort itself out. Also there is a great spirit in the squad all the boys on the panel get on brilliantly together, we have put in a real big effort in training all year and I think that helped us as well against Armagh. At half time we said we hadn’t played well and weren’t working hard enough and we promised to give everything we had in the second half.
Derry are a big challenge on Saturday, Tyrone have already beaten them twice in the league but those performances won’t count for much on Saturday will they?….
The league results are history at this stage, Derry are a very good team and we expect a massive test on Saturday. Derry were favourites to win the Ulster title at the start of the year and they have a team of top class players like Ryan Bell, McAtamney, McKindless, Bradley, O’Brien, McFaul, Dougan, Cassidy, Kearney, McNicholl. Ryan Bell is in his fourth year playing county minor and he will be expected to be their star man on Saturday.
Through the years at Development squads, schools football and club football these Derry boys have been successful, they were the team to beat at the start of the year and that hasn’t changed. As we found out against Armagh the league and the championship are very different so the league results will count for nothing on Saturday.
Despite being the most fancied side in Ulster and favourites to win the contradiction is that Derry are in a no lose situation on Saturday, it makes life difficult for Tyrone….
There is a lot expected of this Derry team, they are rated as the best Derry minor team in years and many people say they are the future of Derry football so I’d say there is more pressure on them than there is on us. We are just concentrating on performing as well as we can on Saturday.
We have been taking one game at a time since the start of the year, we have set no big targets for ourselves, we have just promised to do the best we can in every game so really this game is no different.
We started the year with very little expected of us as Derry, Cavan, Armagh, Monaghan and Donegal all had highly rated teams and we would have been down the pecking order a bit.
Mickey and Kieran said to us before the start of the league that the trials were over and the plan was to pick the strongest team available for every game, give maximum effort in every game and see where that takes us. We believe if we play as well and work as hard as we can we will be hard to beat but if we do that and we meet a team that are better than us fair play to them.
I suppose we have to mention the manager Paul McIver a man you know quite well from his work with Dromore, he will have his side well up for this game…
Paul has done a great job in Dromore and he will know the Tyrone team inside out which will be an advantage to Derry. I will have to put friendship with Paul to one side until after the game on Saturday. Knowing him he will be spinning all sorts of stories and yarns to the Derry players about Tyrone hopefully they have the sense not to believe them.