It wasn’t surprising that Paul McIver was ebullient at the final whistle. Seeing his players overcome a top side when reduced to 14 men is inclined to put any backroom team in good humour.
“Yeah, the boys are delighted. Especially with the character of the performance. Especially the second half, down to 14 men, playing against the second best team in Ireland, the boys showed real character.”
The Derry selector wasn’t happy with the first half dismissal of Fergal Doherty, mind.
“I thought it was very harsh,” said McIver. “Both men were going for the ball. The man just got there in front of Fergal. I think the referees have to realise that the game is played by margins and he was a margin out.
“I thought it was very harsh myself, personally. The first yellow [for Doherty] was very harsh. He was definitely going for the ball.
McIver said Derry were unhappy with the treatment of Enda Lynn in particular: “A lot of people are questioning what is this black card, what is not the black card. We know... we looked at the stats at half-time and Enda Lynn himself had been fouled personally 12 or 13 times in the first half and we wanted him to keep getting on the ball in the second half.
“He received a number of personal fouls. The number of times Kevin Johnston was going through and was taken out and nothing was given. So look, it’s there to be clarified before the championship starts.”
McIver stressed character shown by Derry, particularly in the second half.
“It came from within. We talked about it at half-time. A number of boys spoke about the character. And it came to fruition there in the second half. They knew in the first half that if we took Mayo on, our forwards had the beating of them.
“We knew if we could keep possession of the ball and break their half back line, that we could win the game.”
McIver had warm words for two of the Derry stars, Mark Lynch and Enda Lynn: “Mark Lynch is a fantastic player but he has been an exceptional player for Derry since he was 16 years of age, since he graced the All-Ireland minor final.
“Mark has shown great leadership. Every night at training, he demands everything of the players. Mark won’t ask anybody to do something that he wouldn’t do himself.
“Pound for pound, [Lynn is] one of the best footballers to wear a Derry jersey in the last five or six years.
“He is playing with extreme confidence. He knows his role for the team. Everybody else knows his role and he is playing really good football.
“Everybody else knows his role and he’s playing really good football.”
True. He’s not alone, either.
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