Diver making a splash
Published 26/04/2008 | 10:06
Joe Diver may have thought that he had been consigned to the shadows when James Conway and Fergal Doherty underlined their power and authority for the greater part of the National League to date.
Injury had initially kept the Bellaghy clubman out of the side and then Conway's consistency ensured that he remained Doherty's able lieutenant as Derry roared through their campaign to book their place in tomorrow's final against Kerry.
But now the pendulum has swung in Diver's favour, even if it is at the expense of Conway's misfortune. The latter is forced to miss tomorrow's contest against the reigning All Ireland champions at Parnell Park, Dublin (2.15pm) through injury.
It had been thought earlier in the week that he might make the team but now he will play no part in the proceedings.
Instead, Diver will team up with his club colleague Doherty against Dara O Sé and Seamus Scanlon charged with the role of channelling out the possession that will be central to Derry's hopes of success.
"I did not know for sure until Thursday night that I would be in the starting team and while I am happy to be getting my chance again, I am sorry that James misses out," says Diver who has been a key player for Bellaghy for several years now.
Going in against a Kerry side still clearly hungry for more success would be considered a daunting assignment for most players but Diver is relishing the challenge.
"We are very glad to be in the final. Obviously Kerry are very strong but we are focused," maintains Diver.
It's eight years since Derry were last in the league final, having been a dominant force in the competition during the 90s when the title landed in Oak Leaf territory on four occasions.
Derry manager Paddy Bradley, happy with his side's progress to date, acknowledges that their early defeat in the league to Derry had left a bitter taste in their mouths given the nature of the contest.
"But that's in the past. The referee did not miss the chances that we lost out on that day. We are now getting a chance to show what we can do and we aim to take it," insists Crozier whose defence has been boosted lately by the inclusion of Gerard O'Kane.
With Kevin McCloy back to his best and Liam Hinphey and Michael McIver adventurous wing-backs, Derry have the balance and stamina to keep pace with the champions.
While Enda Muldoon has been included in attack, there are still some concerns that the long-serving Derry ace may still be feeling the effects of his recent injury. But Crozier has options on his bench should his side require amendment during the course of the game.
"There are boys there who have come in and showed up well to date this year so we are not unduly concerned," pointed out Crozier.