Derry 0-11 Clare 1-8: Clare manager Colm Collins accepted responsibility for his side finishing with 14 men after James Kielt’s 75th-minute equaliser for Derry denied the Banner County a memorable start to life in Division 2.
Ciaran Russell’s point four minutes into injury-time looked to have won a game in which both sides missed chances but three second-half black cards for Darren Nagle, Marty McMahon and, crucially, Dean Ryan after six substitutions had been made, meant Clare finished a man short. That helped Derry recover from that late Russell point to almost win it through an Enda Lynn shot before Kielt belied an unfavourable angle along the left to shoot over via the top of the cross bar.
“I suppose we are disappointed,” said Collins, “James Kielt got that last point and before that we thought we had it after Ciaran (Russell) got the last point. We repelled Derry out of the square but maybe a draw was a fair result.
“There was honest endeavour on both sides but we will have to tidy up our finishing a bit but overall I am very proud of the lads and the way they played. Coming to Celtic Park is no easy trip and I suppose when we have time to think about it, it will be a good point.
“I will have to take responsibility for the last substitution. The way the black cards rule has gone you probably should keep that last substitution in reserve. We finished with 14 men and that shouldn’t have happened. It was my own fault but the lads put their shoulder to the wheel. We are facing Down now and that is where our focus is.”
Collins admitted Clare left Celtic Park frustrated though after shooting 14 wides over the 75-odd minutes and seeing at least two very good goal chances squandered.
“This division is going to be very tough,” added the Clare manager, “There are a lot of good teams in it and there will be points going left and right. I can’t see anyone running away with the division so I think every point will be precious.
“Both sides had opportunities. Derry had theirs and Joe (Hayes) pulled off a couple of good saves. I suppose the problem we have with our chances is we never tested the goalkeeper. It is important to get your shot off and you never know what happens with the rebound but our finishing has to tidy up.
“When you go on a pitch, the main think is that the players reflect an honest endeavour and a work-rate and do their best to put a performance in and I think they did. There are loads of things to improve on of course but you have to be happy with how the lads performed.”
Jamie Malone and Sean Collins both missed goal chances before the break with Derry somewhat fortunate to go into the break with a 0-6 to 0-5 lead. Malone made amends when he fisted home Shane Brennan’s 42nd-minute centre for the game’s only goal.
“What pleased me was the way we fought back in the second half because in the first half we were poor,” admitted Derry boss Damian Barton.
“Our method wasn’t that good at times and when the method got better, ie, kicking the ball into our two big strong men we had some dividends. I’m sure they would have wanted rewarded with a few more frees than they got but it would have been a shame if either team had lost really given the chances both created.
“We have a lot of work to do but you saw boys coming in for the first time with the Derry jersey on their back and it’s difficult. It is hard to beat the experience of a few years playing together as we saw from Fermanagh over the weekend.
“We still have big expectations and one point is better than nothing, especially at home. We’ll see. We have to gather the debris together and head down to Meath which is always a great challenge as well. We will know where we are from a physical point of view next week.”
Scorers for Derry:
J Kielt (0-4, 1 free); E Lynn, N Loughlin (1 45) (0-2 each); C McWilliams (0-2); M Lynch (0-1 free)
Scorers for Clare:
J Malone (1-0); E Cleary (0-3, 3 frees); C Russell (0-2); L Markham, S Collins, D Tubridy (0-1 each)
T Mallon; N Keenan, C Nevin, R Murphy; N Forester, M McEvoy, P Hagan; C McAtamney, J Kielt; E Lynn, N Loughlin, C McWilliams; M Lynch, E McGuckin, B Heron.
D Tallon for B Heron (26); G O’Neill for C McAtamney (55); J Doherty for P Hagan (60); O Heagrty for C Nevin (69)
J Hayes; M McMahon, C O’Dea, J Hayes; L Markham, G Kelly, D Ryan; G Brennan, C Russell; J Malone, S Collins, S Brennan; E Cleary, D Tubridy, K Sexton.
D Nagle for C O’Dea (48); E Collins for D Nagle (BC, 54); S Malone for K Sexton (59); S McGrath for S Collins (60); G O’Brien for M McMahon (BC, 60); D Egan for S Brennan (67)
Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)
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