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Derry manager Brennan tries to stay optimistic

By John Campbell

Derry manager John Brennan initially thought that the return of the Bradley brothers, Paddy and Eoin, following cruciate ligament injuries would provide the momentum for a full-frontal assault on the Ulster title.

But fate has yet again dealt the Lavey clubman a cruel hand.

Just when he thought that his worries were about to dissolve, Brennan currently finds himself monitoring the progress of no fewer than four key players as he focuses on the forthcoming championship clash against the winners of the Cavan v Donegal preliminary round tie.

Gerard O’Kane, Mark Craig, Conleith Gilligan and Michael Bateson are still in the doubtful category for the championship opener with Bateson perhaps the chief concern.

“I honestly think that we have been keeping surgeons and doctors busy on our own for about the past four months,” sighs boss Brennan.

“No sooner do we get one player back than we lose another.

“It’s all very frustrating.

“I suppose the only consolation is that we are the last team to enter the championship so we have time to try and get people fit again.”

Bateson, who can play in any position in the half-back line, received a serious injury during the league game against Monaghan and has not played since. He underwent a further scan on his shoulder last Thursday and we expect to learn the result of this within the next day or so,” says Brennan.

“We have to remain optimistic but I would have to say that the circumstances in which the injury was inflicted were most disappointing.”

Mark Craig, who is also a very capable hurler, is still recovering following a clash of heads, Gilligan is recuperating after surgery for a groin problem and O’Kane has been battling against a knee injury sustained in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup final against Tyrone.

The players all missed the concluding two matches in the league and Brennan stresses that every effort will be made to have them fit for the championship.

“I wouldn’t mind but there are a lot of club matches to be played in Derry between now and the date of our game against either Cavan or Donegal,” explains Brennan.

“So there is the possibility we could lose more players, but that’s something you have to live with as a manger.”

“Despite our injuries since the start of the year, we have boys who played their hearts out to help keep us in Division Two and they deserve every credit.

“Maybe had it not been for the injuries we might have made a better fist of achieving promotion.”

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