Ciarán Whelan has likened Derry to the All-Ireland winning Donegal side off 2012, praising the county for reaching this year’s Ulster Championship final.
Derry put in another great performance on Sunday by beating Monaghan in the Ulster semi-final, having beaten All-Ireland champions Tyrone in the previous round.
The Oak Leaf County have consistently improved in recent years, although few would have predicted that they would be contesting the Ulster final, especially when considering the quality of opposition that they had to face.
Former Dublin star Ciarán Whelan was speaking on RTE’s The Sunday Game and argued that no other team in the country currently have as much momentum as Derry.
Ciarán Whelan on Derry.
“Thank God for the Ulster Championship in fairness. A great game of real championship football and probably a well deserved victory for Derry,” Whelan said.
“They’re the one team in the country now that have serious momentum. They look like a Donegal of 2012 or a Tyrone coming. Ulster teams are very, very dangerous when they get that momentum.
“They’re so well set up. They were very similarly set up as they were against Tyrone, very strong defensive structure, very difficult to break down, big leaders throughout the pitch.
“All their players, the likes of Benny Heron, are really coming into it, [Paul] Cassidy kicked two points today, they’re all playing for Rory Gallagher. There’s something special developing in Derry.
“They’re going into an Ulster final and they’re going to be extremely competitive.”
“They are the one team in the country that have serious momentum.”
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 15, 2022
The Oak Leaf County’s steady rise.
Derry’s win against Tyrone a couple of weeks ago was their first victory in the Ulster Championship since 2015, although they have been making steady gains in the Allianz Leagues in recent years.
Just three years ago, Derry were playing in Division Four, although this year they found themselves in Division Two after earning promotion twice in three years.
Derry narrowly missed out on promotion to Division One this year, although they have firmly put that disappointment behind them and will play in their first Ulster final since 2011 in a couple of weeks’ time.
Donegal have looked good in their wins against Armagh and Cavan, although Derry will believe they can lift the Anglo-Celt Cup, having already claimed the scalps of two Division One teams.