DEJECTED Derry boss Damian Barton admitted that ‘emotionally and physically’ Tyrone were on a different level to his team on Saturday night.
Yet again the Oak Leaf boss saw his side put to the sword by their bitter rivals on a big stage and again he found himself grasping to understand why his charges had failed to show up.
“We are disappointed for the supporters that made the effort to come down, the players are disappointed. But really and truly we were beaten by a much better team.
“Emotionally and physically they were on a different level as the game wore on. Our defence played valiantly but I think there was so much coming through the middle third it was very hard to cope.
“Obviously we had a couple of players we couldn’t call upon. Without demeaning this, we got our final last week in terms of how the guys responded. Tyrone are very slick and they are ahead of most teams at the moment, certainly us.”
Barton asked for patience from Derry supporters and stated that there was a huge overhaul of his squad from a year ago.
“The league game in Omagh last year, only three people started who were out there tonight and I think if anything it is a synopsis of where we are from last season.
“But look, I think you could see the tiredness, a bit of lethargy in the legs there from some of the younger guys. Even emotionally, the demands of this kind of opposition, showed there.”
Barton, a member of the Derry All-Ireland winning team of 1993, accepted that his native county are currently way behind Saturday’s opposition in terms of their standing in the game right now.
“At the end of the day I hope the players can reflect on the confidence of beating Monaghan last week. I think Tyrone showed they are a top team in the country and we are a way off that. Physically, we need to get stronger. Our game management will only improve with experience and I think you saw out there tonight, the gulf between the two teams. We will take from this what we can.”
Barton also felt that a protracted run in the McKenna Cup had impacted on Derry’s preparations for the National League, rather than being a positive build-up.
“This competition has interfered with our preparation of what we wanted to do.
“Last week’s game (vs Monaghan) is worth four or five training sessions in terms of distances, sprint distances, if you want to look at metrics and such.
“If we had have been beaten by a point last week, we would have had a good performance and an honourable performance at that. I think we need an extra week.
“We are not going to get that so there is nothing we can do about that.”