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Doherty's return is a bonus for Oak Leafers

By Declan Bogue

Derry fans will look forward to 2014 with a greater sense of optimism after it has been revealed that Fergal Doherty has committed himself once again to the Oak Leafers.

Doherty is recognised as one of the finest midfielders in Ulster and during his inter-county exile was still very much producing the goods for his club, Bellaghy Wolfe Tones.

His last game for his county was a substitute appearance against Carlow in the first round of the 2010 All-Ireland qualifiers, while injury kept him out of the subsequent games against Westmeath and Kildare.

A joiner by trade, Doherty went on to open a bar in Portglenone and his business commitments meant he took a step back from county football as John Brennan served as manager from 2011-12. Brian McIver took the reins last year and attempted to lure him back, but now he has succeeded.

"Fergal Doherty will be part of the Derry panel for the coming season," revealed McIver.

"He has had injury problems in recent times but thankfully he is now back on board and ready to begin work with us again next month.

"Fergal has been an important player for Derry in the past, a player renowned not just for his playing ability, but also for the leadership which he undoubtedly brings to any squad with which he is involved."

With a core of young players coming more into the reckoning in Derry, Doherty's involvement will be seen as a massive boost to the county.

Derry begin life in 2014 in Group B of the Dr McKenna Cup, along with St Mary's, Fermanagh and Monaghan, and they will meet the Ulster champions in their first outing of the season.

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