McIver hails impact made by Derry's introverts
Derry manager Brian McIver prepares to confront Westmeath in Division One of the Allianz League on Sunday at Celtic Park, pinpointing what he feels is the important contribution made by some of his more reticent campaigners to the progress that has been achieved to date.
Having drawn with Tyrone and beaten Kerry, the Oak Leaf side have suddenly thrust themselves into the frame for the league title.
And it's the combined work-rate and scoring prowess of Enda Lynn and Emmett McGuckin which have had much to do with Derry's early surge in the competition.
"These are two players who have worked extremely hard on their individual games," reflects McIver. "They have built up their strength and stamina, improved their pace and are now revealing the kind of quality finishing that is proving a bonus for us."
McGuckin, still only 22, was initially brought into the Derry squad by McIver's predecessor John Brennan but has not quite been regarded as a first-choice player up until now.
However, following a towering performance against Kerry in the team's last outing, the O'Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt clubman has acquired fresh status within the squad.
In contrast, Lynn has been part and parcel of the Derry set-up for several years, having initially been introduced by the then-manager Damian Cassidy in 2009.
Lynn, a foreman with Creagh Concrete, won county and Ulster club intermediate medals with Greenlough in 2008 and remains one of the most potent forwards in the province.
Right now, the unassuming forward is playing the best football of his career and looks certain to have a key role against Westmeath.
"Enda rarely, if ever, plays a bad game. He loves to be involved in the action and he is an excellent team player," insists McIver.
With his squad now boosted by the return of Ballinderry trio Ryan Bell, Aaron Devlin and Gareth McKinless, McIver is confronted by even more interesting selection options. But the Derry boss is unlikely to waiver from his policy of retaining faith in players who are producing consistently good form.
"We are delighted of course to have some of the Ballinderry players back on board and they will certainly help to bolster competition for places but we will take each match as it comes along," maintains McIver.
"Let's be honest. We have three points to date and this guarantees us nothing. There is a lot of football to be played in March and all teams will know much better where they are at by the end of the month."