Glenullin clubman and Derry centre back Gerard O’Kane was clearly disappointed by the result and the display as he commented after Sunday’s devastating League final defeat at the hands of a ruthless Dublin side.
“I was pretty confident going into the game but we had a very poor first half,” he said.
“We felt that we were overawed a bit in the first half. We’d said at half time that our aim was to be two or three points down with ten or fifteen minutes to go to give us a fighting chance and maybe kick on from there. But we didn’t do it.
“We made silly mistakes, we all did! The boys know that themselves.
“We were breaking out alright and then the next thing, when we got to their ‘45’, in around their ‘D’, we were fisting the ball and all of a sudden a Dublin playing was running in to intercept it.
“Stuff that we would not be doing in training, fisting the ball and it not hitting the ground that allows a player to get a tackle in. Simple mistakes that at county level you just do not do. Maybe some of the boys were a bit overawed but it will be an experience that they will learn from.”
On Derry’s goal chances O’Kane responded.
“For a couple of those goal chances we were shooting under pressure but we were putting them under pressure with our tackling too at times,” he said.
“I had a goal chance. I hit it as sweet as you would like. It beat the keeper. On another day had I scuffed it the ball might have ended in the net but today there was a Dublin player standing on the line and the ball hit him. He knew nothing about it. I suppose that summed up or day really.”
On Emmet Bradley’s goal chance just before half time he noted: “That was indicative of our whole game. He fisted the ball across the goalmouth and a Dublin player came out of nowhere and intercepted the ball. In training we try to hit the man in the chest with a fist pass, that was maybe a bit too high. But the game did not turn on that chance alone.
“We started off quite well in the second half and got the first couple of scores but overall I’m pretty disappointed.
When it was suggested that this game would have given Derry an idea of where they have to go to compete with the top teams, O’Kane, who scored two points, commented, “Aye it was the first massive set back that we have had his year, so it will be a test of boys’ character if nothing else. People might question our fitness but that was not the case as we were still going at the end, it was the silly mistakes that we made, that are most disappointing.
The Donegal game in the first round of the Ulster championship is now next up for Derry.
“I suppose you learn from every defeat,” said O’Kane.
“We’ll be disappointed for three or four games but if you are going to compete at this level you have to be able to put that stuff behind you and learn from it. We will sit down and set ourselves new goals. We have put in a lot of work to get to this stage, so it would be an awful shame if we saw this as the end of something-which we don’t,” said O’Kane.