Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Derry reach D-day over Brennan’s future

Derry manager John Brennan is expected to discover this week if he will remain in charge of the team for next year.

He must surely have permitted himself a wry smile over the weekend as he assessed a number of outstanding displays by several of this year’s Oak Leaf squad when they assisted their clubs in important domestic championship matches.

Brennan’s panel was decimated by injuries which proved a significant contributory factor to their Ulster Championship defeat by Donegal and their All-Ireland qualifier exit against Longford.

Conleith Gilligan turned in a virtuoso performance when he helped himself to 2-7 as Ballinderry overwhelmed luckless Greenlough by 4-22 to 0-3, while Mark Craig and Liam Hinphey played key roles in defence as Dungiven swept past Glen by 1-12 to 0-5.

Paul Murphy, who has worn the county jersey with distinction in the past, was introduced as a Dungiven substitute and scored two points thus cementing the notion that he still has something to offer at the higher level.

Ryan McElhinney’s well-taken goal had much to do with Dungiven stamping their authority on the game and they will take considerable confidence from this result.

And veteran Fergal Doherty, who has not been seen in the Derry colours for some time, helped to underpin a confident Bellaghy side that outgunned Craigbane by 2-18 to 0-6.

P J McCloskey and Mark Lynch, both of whom were regulars in the Derry side this year, could do little to stop Banagher being overrun by Magherafelt O’Donovan Rossa, who won by 1-13 to 0-6.

Rather than turning to experience, Rossa placed their faith in youth with Christopher Speers and Ryan Ferris, both of whom previously played for Ballymaguigan, turning on the style in the team’s 10-point victory.

Caolan O’Boyle, who presence was badly missed in the Derry attack this summer, underlined his many-sided talents by scoring a goal for Lavey in their game against Kilrea.

Lavey, managed by 1993 Derry All-Ireland winning skipper Henry Downey, looked as if they might take control as that goal kept them in touch at 1-5 to 1-4, but in the second-half Kilrea, with their forwards making the most of the scoring chances, ran away to win convincingly by 2-16 to 2-7.

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