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Derry host London in opening game in All-Ireland ladies’ football junior campaign

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TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ JFC, Group A, round one Derry v London (Sunday, Ballymaguigan, 12pm)

DERRY and London are the first teams in action when the All-Ireland championships get underway on Sunday.

The Oak Leaf girls welcome London to Ballymaguigan hoping to make use of both home advantage and the fact that this is London’s first competitive game of the season.

That should put Derry in the driving seat, but the Ulster side are coming in off the back of final disappointment after defeat to Fermanagh two weeks ago in the junior decider.

In the time since, the management team of Paddy O’Brien and DD McCaffrey will have had to lift their players back up and at the same time plan for London.

Many might not have expected Derry to beat Fermanagh in Augher that day, but it was their performance that annoyed the players most, especially in the first half when they let the game get away from them.

It was a more spirited showing after the break and, if they can take that and replicate it against London, then they are certainly in with a chance of recording a rare Championship win.

Derry captain Joanne Corr said it was a hard defeat to take but, since then, they have tried to focus on the positives while also working on where they let the game get away from them – not taking goal-chances and struggling to retain possession from their own kick-out

“We were massively disappointed with our game. The performance just wasn’t there on the day, unfortunately,” said Corr, who will lead her team out on her own club ground.

“I think the second half, it was important for us in the changing room to not leave the heads down and throw the towel in just then.

“It’s tough coming out on the back foot, but we had a choice to make then – we either go out and try to make moves or not, so changes in our performance had to happen and I think we did that.

“We’ve put focus on a lot of elements that maybe went wrong in the Fermanagh game that we want to get right going forward, particularly on our attacking play and how we want to set up.

“Trainings have been focused on tackling those areas and pushing forward to produce a performance.”

It is difficult to know what players London will have from one year to the next, and that is made more difficult with this being their first game of the year.

Regardless, Derry are expecting a tough challenge from their opponents, who defeated them in the group stages of the competition in Ruislip last year.

“I think with London not having had the league to get game time, it should come as a slight advantage to us, but they aren’t to be underestimated either and we’re fully aware of that,” Corr added.

“Having home advantage on a club pitch in Derry should hold to us also, but we can’t be reliant on these factors to get us there, they have some fantastic players that can’t be looked past.

“Last year, they had a strong team and the match was a very tough one in tough conditions, so we’re not expecting anything less this year. It’s hard to judge what they will be showing up with, but we can’t underestimate them.

“For us at the minute, it’s all about performance and what we can bring to the pitch.

“I think the disappointment from the Fermanagh match is somewhere none of us girls want to be again, so we’ll hopefully use that to drive us on for Sunday.”

FIXTURES

Sunday

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ JFC round one

Group A Derry v London (Ballymaguigan, 12pm); Sligo v Carlow (Tubbercurry, 2pm)

Group B Longford v Limerick (Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 2pm)

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