That’s not to say that Wexford particularly troubled them in Owenbeg on Saturday. Once Brian Malone spilled the ball into his own net five minutes from the interval and handed Derry a four-point lead, the hosts were always comfortable.
By the break, the shell-shocked visitors had leaked a further three points, and suddenly, they were out of the game.
The game followed a similar pattern to Derry’s win over Down. Against Jim McCorry’s side, their move to man-to-man after half-time was forced by a red card. On Saturday, Wexford were forced out by a need to chase the game.
They came out after the interval and pushed up on Derry. The hosts will be pleased with their defensive display, for they never looked particularly troubled. Ciaran Lyng kicked two sublime points but that was the height of Wexford’s attacking purpose.
The disappointment for Derry would be that, with Cailean O’Boyle on form inside, they never recognised that the space was there. At times O’Boyle, at others Eoin Bradley, were standing with acres of space in front of them.
But so ingrained was the running game, that Derry never kicked the ball in. Had they, then the potential for havoc, and for goals, was there.
Bradley played an hour after his European exploits in Belarus with Glenavon during the week, and McIver sees that combination as the key to reaching the last eight of the championship.
“I was very tempted to take Eoin Bradley off because he had a match during the week
but I wanted him to stay on and get him playing, along with Cailean. There’s wee signs that’s starting to happen, which is a big plus for us,” said the Derry boss.
His counterpart David Power admitted his side was always chasing the game after a Brian Malone goal on the half-hour, but he was unhappy with a high tackle that hospitalised his influential midfielder after the game.
“I thought the tackle on Brian Malone was horrendous. Around the neck, it could have done serious damage. He wasn’t able to come on for the second half for that reason. He’s one of our leaders and he was a massive loss.
“Between losing Brian Malone and the goal, the game hinged on that,” said Power, who withdrew Malone in a triple half-time switch.
The first half-hour of the game was locked in a defensive maelstrom. Wexford saw Derry’s one sweeper and raised it, allowing Joey Wadding and Graeme Molloy both to sit free, and Kieran Butler dropping back.
They began by double-marking Eoin Bradley, quite visibly so, until the Glenullin man came out. But the more emphasis Wexford put on stopping Bradley, the more space Cailean O’Boyle got.
The big Lavey man was the outstanding player on the park in the first half, swivelling early to fire over from 40 yards. The confidence was up and he ended up coming out around midfield in the last 15 minutes of the half, where he won three clean kick-outs.
It was O’Boyle, with the aid of Fergal Doherty, who forced the score which finally put daylight between the sides. A long ball from Bradley towards O’Boyle broke and Doherty, though visibly struggling with injury, smashed in along the end-line.
He squared and O’Boyle fisted off the bar, with Brian Malone unable to grasp the greasy rebound and spilling it over the line into his own net.
It came at a time when David Power would have been starting to dream of victory. Playing against the wind, the driving runs of both the visitors’ midfielders and wing-back Adrian Flynn — who kicked a superb score on the run — had the Yellowbellies within a point at 0-5 to 0-4 just shy of the half-hour.
But the own-goal rattled them and only for a brilliant stop from Anthony Masterson to deny Bradley, the gap could have widened further. Benny Heron pointed the 45’ and then Daniel Heavron abandoned sweeping duties to kick Derry into a 1-8 to 0-4 interval lead.
Two poor kick-outs in succession from Masterson on the restart handed scores to Mark Lynch and Liam McGoldrick, making it 1-11 to 0-5 early in the second period, and despite two superb Ciaran Lyng scores, Derry cruised into round three.
M Lynch (0-6, 5 frees); C O’Boyle (0-3); Brian Malone OG (1-0); B Heron (0-2, 1 free); D Heavron L McGoldrick, E Lynn, C McAtamney, E Bradley (free) (0-1 each)
C Lyng (0-5, 2 frees); B Brosnan (0-3 frees); A Flynn, E Nolan (0-1 each)
T Mallon; O Duffy, C McKaigue, D McBride; L McGoldrick, B Rogers, SL McGoldrick; N Holly, F Doherty; B Heron, M Lynch, E Lynn; D Heavron, E Bradley, C O’Boyle.
T O’Brien for Doherty (60), K McKaigue for Rogers (60), C McAtamney for Lynn (66), C Murphy for E Bradley (67).
A Masterson; R Tierney, N Rossiter, J Wadding; S Donohoe, G Molloy, A Flynn; S Byrne, B Malone; T Rossiter, B Brosnan, K Butler; C Lyng, M O’Regan, K O’Grady.
J Breen for Wadding (HT), E Nolan for Byrne (HT), C Kehoe for Malone (HT), J Tubritt for O’Grady (61), P Byrne for O’Regan (61).
F Kelly (Longford)