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Oak Leafers focused on shot at Croke Park

By John Campbell

The carrot of an Allianz League semi-final appearance at Croke Park will help fashion the thinking of Derry boss Brian McIver in terms of his selection plans for Sunday's home tie against Kildare.

McIver believes that a pre-championship outing at Headquarters will mark another significant step in the development of his side which has accumulated seven points from five games to date in the league and which is almost certain to claim a last four slot on the back of a win over the struggling Lily Whites.

In contrast to the build-up to the victory over Dublin earlier this month, McIver will be confronted by an abundance of riches in attack for the confrontation with Jason Ryan's side.

James Kielt and Emmet McGuckin, who have made a pronounced impact in the Oak Leaf attack of late, missed the outing against the All-Ireland champions while Ciaran McGoldrick was deployed as a substitute after Caolan O'Boyle was taken off as a precautionary measure having received a blow to the head.

With the very much in-form Mark Lynch, the elusive Declan Mullan, the free-scoring Enda Lynn, ace goal poacher Benny Herron and the emerging Ciaran McFaul among those jostling for places in attack, McIver could be said to have a proverbial treasure chest of options.

Add to this the fact that Ryan Bell and Aaron Devlin are available again after extended duty with Ballinderry Shamrocks and it can be seen that Derry have the necessary ammunition up front to make life even more intolerable for Kildare.

But while McIver clearly relishes his team's possible involvement in the closing stages of the league, he is taking nothing for granted for Sunday.

"Kildare have lost to Tyrone and Kerry just recently and they will come to us feeling they have ground to make up. That will make them a dangerous animal and we have to be on our guard. Everyone must remain on their toes," insists McIver.

The return of his Ballinderry Shamrocks contingent has of course further bolstered McIver's hand, but while Aaron Devlin was deployed as a substitute against Dublin, it appears that McIver will be in no rush to plunge his representatives from the Ulster club champions line-up into his starting line-up.

Belfast Telegraph

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