Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Mark Lynch relishing life at Derry

oak leaf ace is thrilled to be back at the top and is thriving under mciver Key man: Mark Lynch was made Derry captain by Brian McIver and is repaying that show of faith

Mark Lynch was made Derry captain by Brian McIver and is repaying that show of faith
Mark Lynch was made Derry captain by Brian McIver and is repaying that show of faith

AS the 16-year-old on Derry's All-Ireland winning minor team of 2002, much had been expected of Mark Lynch coming into the Derry senior team.

His mature physique and powerful running led many to believe that another Dermot McNicholl was in the works.

However, a combination of inconsistency and a succession of managers switching him from pillar to post had meant that the Banagher man had only shown his abilities in patches.

That is until the appointment of Brian McIver, who instantly made Lynch captain and housed him in centre-back with license to attack at will.

McIver's approval has led to Lynch becoming one of the biggest leaders of any side in Ulster football. It has meant that he could be pushed further forward to centre-forward on Saturday night, yet his level of performance never dipped as he hit four points while being marked by Peter Harte.

Modesty forbids him to shout too much about his own form as he commented afterwards, "If I go out and try and do too much, I don't think I do anything to be honest because the brain is not tuned in. But as soon as you go out and work, everything else will fall into place. What we are asked to do, we do it.

"I played okay tonight. I certainly have to get fitter but hopefully that will come with games. It is an ever-improving thing. There are a lot of boys there pushing for competition, and you really do need a kick up your backside to be at the top of your game and be the best you can."

On his return to the half-forward line, he is unsure at this point if it is a permanent switch, or else a one-off tactical ploy, joking, "I will be happy enough if I am on, the next place could be the bench!

"We worked at it and whether I am good enough at it I am not too sure. It will be down to Brian and we will discuss it again on Tuesday night and see it is any way valuable to the team."

As a collective body, Derry can definitely trace the signs of improvement under McIver. Now they are back in the top flight, disappointed at not having beaten Tyrone after coming back from a seven-point gap in the second half.

"The draw and all is a valuable point in Division One but I have to say it feels like a defeat," said a slightly-deflated Lynch. "We weren't going in patting ourselves on the back, I know that much."

Humility was at the centre of their promotion season last year and it appears to be the same now when Lynch is asked if the three seasons in Division Two hurt them.

"Every year we tried to get up there but certain wee things did not work for us. Maybe teamwork was that wee bit different. There is definitely a great team out there and we are all trying to do our best for the team."

There may be some coincidence that without Fergal Doherty over the past three years, Derry hadn't been the same proposition. He has returned in astonishing form and it is clear that he brings enormous value to the dressing room, according to Lynch.

"He has a voice on him that goes through you, it would send shivers through you, he has a shoulder that would send shivers through you as well!

"It is leadership, it is his presence. It is a great thing to have him back, even for the likes of myself and you can see it in the younger boys, they are oozing with confidence and it is coming from him, you know. He is certainly a leading light."

While Lynch may not be wholly satisfied with a draw, they have another stiff test approaching this weekend when they travel to Tralee to face Kerry.

"There is no reason why we shouldn't (beat Kerry)", Lynch maintains.

"It is all on the day and if the team goes out and performs, we can definitely muster it with the best. That's the important thing about going out and performing.

"There was great character shown today, to be seven points down and come back, that was a positive thing but we can't afford to go seven points every day."

He adds, "It is going to tough. They are a very good team, I don't have to really state that. We are really looking forward to it when you are playing the best teams in the country and it's another game but we are looking forward."

As Brian McIver (left) said post-match, if you would have offered those players these games this time last year, they would have gladly accepted.

No wonder they are relishing life these days.

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