Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

McCloskey weighs in to give Derry hope for future

The new regime in Derry has started well, with visible signs of recovery very much in evidence against Tyrone.

On target: PJ McCloskey scored three points against Tyrone

After the match, PJ McCloskey granted interviews. Not even a year ago, he attended the launch night of the Ulster Championship and as one reporter suggested, he looks much leaner now. A product of the heavy workload that they are currently engaged in?

“Funny,” the 27-year-old midfielder from Banagher replied, “I think I am a bit heavier than I was back then. Some players are encouraged to put on a bit more weight, others are encouraged to loose weight. You try to look after yourself and you know what's good for yourself and your performance.”

It sounds remarkably similar to the transformation that Rory Kavanagh of Donegal underwent. Previously a wing-forward, Kavanagh responded to the demands to bulk up and become a mobile midfielder, one of the little things underlining Donegal's progress in the past two years.

McCloskey was a standout performer on Sunday. His tussle with Sean Cavanagh shaped much of the encounter. While Cavanagh finished with a personal tally of seven points, McCloskey could also be satisfied with his own return of three from play.

“That's the way the game goes,” he explained.

“You might get more chances further out the field when you are coming from deep, running off the game as opposed to forwards who are always going away from goal. That's the way the game seems to go, things can open up for you but it's all about keeping it tight. Unfortunately, we didn't keep it tight enough.”

New manager Brian McIver had appealed to his Derry players that above everything else, he wanted a strong performance. They were a shade unlucky not to take the points as Tyrone struck late with a Conor McAliskey goal, but they certainly delivered.

Some of that can be attributed to the new regime and the effort that McIver has demanded has been matched by his players.

“It's a big ask now,” considers McCloskey of the training schedule, “but that's the way the game is going. And as soon as one team does it and gets success, every other team will do it and everybody knows that. It's scary as well; because you put that much into it, everybody wants to see results.

“You need to make it worth it for yourself, to convince yourself that what you are doing isn't insane completely.”

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