Derry manager Brian McIver, having watched his side fall to a last-minute goal against Tyrone last Sunday, is hoping that they can enjoy a rub of the green when they meet a sprightly UUJ side at Celtic Park in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup on Saturday (7pm).
And while McIver focuses strongly on getting his first win as the new boss, county board officials are urging supporters to get behind the team.
Derry fans normally display little enthusiasm for early-season games and the administrators clearly feel that McIver’s new-look team can perform to a higher level if they get vocal encouragement from the stands and terraces.
McIver can certainly take considerable heart from his own team’s feisty display against Tyrone when they were rather unfortunate to go under by two points (1-14 to 0-15) and obviously feels they can step up further against UUJ.
“I thought we were unlucky to come out of the Tyrone game with nothing to show for our efforts,” said McIver.
“A lot of the players stepped up to the mark and that is highly encouraging. They showed a lot of character.
“We had young players in the side and you only get to see what such players are made of when they take part in competitive games against teams like Tyrone,” he added.
“I would hope that we might be able to get a win under our belts against UUJ but they have been playing together for a while now and they certainly won’t be lacking in cohesion and intensity.”
James Kielt was initially due to play for Queen’s in the competition but when they withdrew he made himself available to Derry and McIver certainly had cause to be grateful for this last Sunday when the Kilrea man was on target against Tyrone.
Eoin Bradley and Ryan Bell were also impressive in the Oak Leaf attack and a repeat of their accuracy on Saturday would certainly prove a plus-factor.
Manager McIver is understandably enthused about the good mix of youth and experience in his panel.
“The younger guys will get valuable game time this month while the older hands can show that they still have a lot to offer,” said McIver.
But the manager, in tandem with county board officials, believes that the better the atmosphere at Celtic Park, then the better the prospects will be for a home success.
County PRO Dermot McPeake said: “It would be great to see the fans come out and give the younger players in particular the encouragement they deserve.
“Saturday night games have grown in popularity lately and it will be interesting to note the response of our followers this week-end.”