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Derry star Dermot McBride will play by rules in chase for glory

By Declan Bogue

With 17 yellow cards collected throughout last year's Championship, it's clear that Derry will be targeting disciplined tackling as an area of improvement in 2014.

In most field sports, if there are rule changes, they generally favour the offensive players, making life increasingly difficult for defenders. Now that the black card has also began life, Derry corner-back Dermot McBride sees the margins of error for players in his position shrink ever further.

Still, his view is that Derry need to concern themselves only with themselves. After picking up the O'Fiaich Cup with victory over Armagh in the final after extra-time, the Ballinascreen man is hungry for some more meaningful silverware.

On adapting to the new black card rule, he says: "I suppose you can do some tackling drills and point out stuff, but the rules, whether they need to be changed or not will not worry us. We just have to worry about ourselves and look at the rules, see what way there is around it, change our tackling and whatever we can.

"I think it's basically to prevent boys from pulling down and there's going to be a bit of time before it is fully developed."

Given that he is a 'Screen man, he has a special interest in how the black card will play out. Fellow clubman and legendary Derry defender Tony Scullion was an important figure in the Football Review Committee and delivered an impassioned speech at Congress that many believe helped swing the vote in favour of the new proposals.

"It will hopefully be good for the game, I can't go against my clubman Tony!" said McBride, who has also been coached at club level by Scullion,.though interestingly he reveals: "He concentrated on both defenders and forwards, Tony would have played up front for the club from time to time. He took us at minor level and senior level and a lot of the lads have developed through the club with him.

"Tony is a very good coach, what Tony says, goes. I hope it works out for us."

Heading into their second year under Brian McIver, the slide Derry were on has been arrested. A return to division one football is much welcome and indeed essential according to McBride.

"We do think of ourselves as a division one team. It was crucial for us to get into division one," he said.

"It was disappointing for us to lose to Cavan in the Championship, it was a game that we could have and probably should have won. Cavan probably deserved to win it and we had a chance to nick it at the end. It was a disappointing end to the year.

"We are in division one, where we belong and it is going to be another step up in terms of the intensity of teams you are playing.

"We have to catch up and show we do belong there. Hopefully coming off a good showing in the McKenna Cup and the league we can go into the Championship and push on from there."

Injuries held McBride back last year. He tore his hamstring in the latter stages of the league and could not make it back for the Ulster first-round game against Down. He regained his place by the time the backdoor swung open, but freely admits he was off the pace.

Domestically, it was also a year of anti-climax as Ballinascreen reached the county final, before being losing to Ballinderry.

"I don't think anyone expected Ballinascreen to get to the county final apart from ourselves," recalls McBride.

"We were working off a panel of players that are good enough to get a county title. Unfortunately it didn't go our way on the day and Ballinderry took it off us.

"It was a tough season. We did ok, didn't do well enough; we set out to win the county Championship and we came up short. We have to start that up again at the start of next year and go again."

Starting all over again, there is no other way.

Belfast Telegraph

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