Diver can hold middle ground for Derry
JOE Diver is no stranger to the frustration and heartbreak caused by injury.
The Bellaghy clubman has been forced to exercise patience in his bid to nail down a place in the Derry side but a towering performance against Donegal in the first round of the Ulster senior football championship earlier this month sends him into Saturday's Ulster semi-final against Fermanagh at Healy Park, Omagh (6.00) in good heart.
Diver has had his share of injury worries in the recent past but has now laid a firm claim to a regular slot in Paddy Crozier's side.
But he's certainly taking nothing for granted as he approaches Saturday's test against a Fermanagh side buoyed by that surprise win over fancied Monaghan last month.
"It was great to get past Donegal but we tended to make things hard for ourselves. I think we showed what we were made of in the second-half, though, and now we would be keen to hit the ground running against Fermanagh, " says Diver.
The Ernesiders, like Derry, are well served at midfield where Mark Murphy and Martin McGrath were outstanding against Monaghan with the latter deservedly claiming the man of the match accolade.
It was no great surprise when he subsequently was accorded the Tennent's Ulster GAA Writers' monthly merit award as well.
Diver has huge respect for Fermanagh and acknowledges that Malachy O'Rourke has helped to instill fresh belief in the side.
"I know that they will be very fired up and we are in for a huge battle. But that win over Donegal coming on the back of our National League triumph obviously gives us a major boost. The way in which the Ulster Championship has been panning out so proves that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted," adds Diver.
Manager Paddy Crozier, forced once again to do without the experience of veteran Sean Marty Lockhart in defence, nevertheless points to the fact that he was an eleventh-hour withdrawal from the game against Donegal because of 'flu. This time a quad muscle injury sidelines the Banagaher man.
"Sean Marty is a proven player and we would like to have him available but we have to go with what we have," he says.