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Dr McKenna Cup: Derry sense a new era of glory lies ahead

By John Campbell

New Derry captain Barry McGoldrick is hoping that the team can now replicate the spirit which took his own club Coleraine Eoghan Rua to a shock county senior football championship title last year.

McGoldrick and his three brothers — Sean Leo, Ciaran and Colm — shared in one of the most spectacular successes when their unfancied side turned the formbook upside down to claim the major domestic trophy.

Indeed, when they subsequently embarked on their Ulster Club Championship campaign, it took a fiercely committed display from Burren to thwart their ambitions of making it a double helping of prestige silverware.

Now McGoldrick, who has been part of the fabric of the Derry squad for the past five years, is urging his players to show the togetherness and spirit that he believes helped to underpin Coleraine’s astonishing climb to the top in 2010.

As he prepares for tonight’s Barrett Sports Lighting McKenna Cup semi-final against Antrim at Celtic Park, McGoldrick makes no bones about the rampant hunger for success which has engulfed the Oak Leaf side.

“We have been out of the frame while Tyrone and Armagh have been collecting Ulster and All Ireland titles but now we feel we can make our pitch for silverware. We have not won the provincial crown since 1998,” says McGoldrick.

“We have made a good start to the year by going three matches undefeated but everyone will tell you that nothing of significance is won in January.

“Still, I feel if we can show the desire, attitude and togetherness that Coleraine revealed last year we could maybe do something this year.”

And he is convinced that new manager John Brennan has already restored a winning mentality within the squad although he acknowledges that this will really only be put to the test when the National League commences next weekend.

“Our whole focus is on Antrim. They like ourselves are undefeated and they have drawn with Down and beaten Armagh so that tells you they are a very decent side. Besides, Liam Bradley will have them fired up to put one over on us,” smiles McGoldrick.

The captaincy will rest comfortably on his shoulders, too, it would appear.

“I am not bothered about the responsibility in the least. It's nice to be asked to lead the side but it won't really change my game. I’ll just play my normal game and support all the other players. It's quite a young team but we have several of the old hands still playing and playing well,” he says.

In a week in which Derry chairman John Keenan confirmed that “perceived disharmony” is a thing of the past in the county, the united front being shown on and off the field augers well for the future.

Keenan says: “Maybe we have had our problems in the not too distant past but we are going forward in very positive mode.

“John Brennan has made an early impact as manager and I have no doubt that Barry McGoldrick, a great Derry servant, will prove an inspirational captain.

“If we can beat Antrim and reach the McKenna Cup final it would certainly signal a very encouraging start to 2011.”

The Oak Leaf county chairman has urged all Derry fans to get behind the team in a spirit of unity.

Kerenan added: “We have a massive game against Tyrone next Saturday to start us off in the league and the players will need all the encouragement they can get.

“I would just love to see Celtic Park packed to the rafters.”

Belfast Telegraph

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