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Big-name trio are leading the race for Derry hotseat after Brian McIver departure

By John Campbell

Published 11/09/2015

Antrim manager Liam Bradley
Antrim manager Liam Bradley
Ballinderry manager Martin McKinless
Kilrea manager Peter Doherty

The Derry county board do not intend to drag their feet as they seek to appoint a new manager to succeed Brian McIver.

It is believed that interviews for the post have already been conducted and an assessment of the candidates is under way.

And the speculation is that a home-grown manager will get the green light.

Derry officials are anxious to see the position filled so that the new incumbent will have maximum time to prepare for the 2016 season.

The board have already shown their determination to press forward by quickly confirming McIver as Director of Football.

Having been relegated to Division Two of the Allianz League this year, the Oak Leafs face a battle to get back into Division One next year prior to launching their bid for what would be a first Ulster title since 1998.

In what has virtually become custom and practice, names of high-profile managers not currently holding posts have been linked to the Derry job as indeed they have to the vacant Down role - but, significantly, not to the position of Tyrone manager which has still to be filled, though Mickey Harte is likely to get another term.

Such names are those of Seamus McEnaney, the former Monaghan manager, and Tony McEntee, who brought Crossmaglen Rangers to All-Ireland club glory.

While they carry considerable gravitas, the Derry board may overlook them in favour of 'domestic' managerial talent.

It is understood that three 'strong' candidates from within the county have made the shortlist for a job that is now regarded as one of the most daunting on the island.

Former Antrim manager and current boss of Donegal club Malin, Liam Bradley - who took the Saffrons into the 2009 Ulster final - has his hat in the ring and his credentials certainly stand up to the closest scrutiny, as do those of Peter Doherty, now in charge of Loup, who has an impressive track record in management.

And former Ballinderry boss Martin McKinless is also thought to be in the reckoning.

McKinless brought Ballinderry to five Derry championship titles between 2006 and 2014 and to the Ulster club crown in 2013 but their bid to reach the All-Ireland title was thwarted by Dublin side St Vincent's at the semi-final stage.

A source close to the Derry board revealed: "It is imperative that we hit the ground running in 2016. The initial aim will be to get back up into Division One and if that could be achieved, it would undoubtedly provide a great fillip going into the Ulster Championship.

"For far too long we have had to look on as other Ulster sides have basked in success and we would like to think that we can get back to where we used to be. That won't be easy and whoever gets the job will have his hands full."

Tyrone defender Ronan McNabb's injury is worse than first feared with the news that he has damaged his cruciate ligament. The Dromore man sustained the injury at club training on Friday night and at first it was thought that he had dislocated his knee.

A scan, though, revealed that he has suffered a partial tear of his ACL. The worst case scenario is that he may require surgery and if that is the case he could miss a huge chunk of next season.

Belfast Telegraph

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