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Derry bosses make their mark

By John Campbell

Two Derry county team bosses of recent vintage will strive to reach a significant goal in what is regarded as enemy territory this weekend.

For decades there has always been an intense rivalry between Derry and Tyrone.

But the current cross-fertilisation of managers at club level has not only broken down barriers but given the respective senior football championships added allure.

Damian Cassidy, who held the reins of the Oak Leaf county team prior to John Brennan taking over last year, will be in charge of Clonoe today when they face Derrylaughan in the first of the Tyrone semi-finals.

And then tomorrow Paddy Crozier - Derry's boss prior to Cassidy's regime - will bid to plot an Omagh St Enda's triumph over Dromore in the second semi-final.

Cassidy has already left his imprint on the Tyrone championship having taken Clonoe to the title in 2008.

And now in his second term in charge he looks capable of working the oracle again.

In Derrylaughan, Clonoe will be meeting a side which has come up through the intermediate ranks but which has gained in experience and cohesion to such an extent that they are no longer rated outsiders in a title context.

Clonoe turned in a superb show of skill and character in overcoming Carrickmore in the quarter-finals after a replay.

And the confidence and conviction they will have gained from that performance should stand them in good stead.

Crozier will tomorrow pit his managerial skills against those of yet another native of the Oak Leaf county, Paul McIver, son of former Donegal boss Brian McIver who was No 2 to James McCartan in Down this year before stepping down recently.

McIver jnr has shown that he is very much a chip off the old block by the competent manner in which he has steered Dromore into the last four.

And with players such as Ryan McMenamin, Colm McCullagh and Sean O'Neill underpinning his side, there is a reservoir of experience and skill there that will cause mighty problems for Omagh.

Crozier, from Ballymaguigan, is a shrewd tactician and his Omagh side certainly underlined their credentials when they overcame reigning champions Coalisland Fianna by 2-16 to 2-10 in a quarter-final replay that highlighted their hunger to end a 23-year title famine.

The McMahon brothers Joe and Justin - both fixtures in the Tyrone team along with the supremely accurate Ronan O'Neill - will lend weight to the Omagh challenge although Dromore's defence, in which McMenamin and O'Neill are key figures, will not be easily breached.

Dromore, too, have acquired a winning habit and manager McIver along with trainer Ryan Porter has instilled a very positive attitude within the side which augurs well.

Belfast Telegraph

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