Damian Barton braced for Cork in ‘bizarre’ Division 2

Derry manager Damian Barton isn’t surprised to see the Cork footballers fighting for their Division 2 survival, such has been the bizarre nature of this year’s league.

Damian Barton braced for Cork in ‘bizarre’ Division 2

The Oak Leaf county welcome Peadar Healy’s charges to Celtic Park next Sunday, with both teams in desperate need of the two points on offer to lift them clear of relegation. Derry are currently bottom with three points, while Cork, on four points, lie fifth.

Barton described the fixture as “critical” for both sides and said it would be a “major achievement” if his team could pull themselves out of the drop zone during the closing fortnight of action.

Asked about Cork’s poor league form, Barton replied: “Nothing surprises me in this league. There are very fine margins between the teams. I wouldn’t have had any expectations about any of the teams in Division 2.

"Clare have acquitted themselves very well. They took points off Cork, they took a point off ourselves. We’re actually the only team to take points off Kildare which is quite bizarre.

“It is obviously at a very critical stage for both ourselves and Cork. You can include Fermanagh and Down in that, as well. We all need to win this weekend. For us and Cork, there will be psychological scars.

"Cork lost a nine-point lead against Meath, so maybe that will have an impact. With six minutes remaining, we were a point down against Galway. We conceded goals thereafter that could have been prevented.

“Andy McEntee last weekend referred to the brittleness of Meath and Cork. I’d say that would extend to several other teams, including us. Brittleness of mindset and perhaps, structure; it does take time to hone that. Whoever is well organised and plays with confidence, that will be important [on Sunday].”

Barton confirmed the Slaughtneil contingent have returned to the camp, minus Karl McKaigue who is on holiday.

“They were at training on Tuesday. Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers are strong probabilities to be involved this weekend. There are a couple of other players, but there is the emotional trauma of losing an All-Ireland and then the long run in both the club hurling and football, I think, has taken an emotional toll on a few of them.

"We’ve had players out injured and we haven’t rushed them back.”

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