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McErlain honoured to become new Derry senior manager

By John Campbell

Damian McErlain has been appointed the new Derry senior football manager in succession to Damian Barton. The coaching personnel on the new management team will include Killian Conlan, Gavin McGeehan and former Derry goalkeeper Barry Gillis.

The modest and unassuming McErlain, a member of the Magherafelt O'Donovan Rossa club, currently has his hands full as he prepares the Oak Leaf minor side which he has managed for the past three years for next month's All-Ireland final against four-in-a-row seeking Kerry.

In confirming McErlain's appointment, the Derry board said in a statement: "Through their work with our minor and other under-age squads Damian and his team have demonstrated their ability and commitment to creating an environment which helps players achieve their potential."

That's why today marks his first day as Derry senior boss, a daunting task by any standards, but a mission for which McErlain is particularly well-endowed.

His forthright, no-nonsense approach, his encyclopaedic knowledge of Derry football and his ingrained pride in taking the county forward ensure that a new era is about to dawn.

Starved of any sort of meaningful success for two decades, occasionally riven with contentious club vs county issues and 'burdened', if that is the right word, by an extensive raft of dual players, Derry have tended to exist on the margins on the inter-county arena.

The county board now obviously believe that all this can change under McErlain, whose fastidious attention to detail, tactical nous and inter-personal skills have been manifest in his minor role tenancy to date.

In what was a chastening six-month spell from February this year, Derry suffered relegation to Division Three of the league, lost their Ulster Championship quarter-final and bowed out of the All-Ireland qualifiers.

Clearly relishing his new role, McErlain said: "On behalf of myself and the management team, we are delighted and honoured to be entrusted with working with our county's senior footballers for the next three years.

"We know the talent that exists within the county and we have developed three strong minor teams to bolster that."

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