McCloy keen to go all the way again
Last year Kevin McCloy tasted the bitter taste of disappointment in the Ulster Championship with Derry.
It’s an experience he does not want to repeat this time round and he firmly believes that the Oak Leaf county can gain the perfect pre-championship fillip by beating Kerry in the Allianz National Football League final tomorrow week.
McCloy is expected to make the side for the decider having been missing lately because of injury.
The quiet-spoken defender, a former Derry captain, is looking forward to seeing the side retain their league prize but acknowledges that getting the better of Kerry this time won’t be easy.
“Their manager Jack O’Connor is always very fired up for dealing with the challenge of Ulster sides and although we beat them in last year’s league final, that’s certainly no guarantee that history will now repeat itself,” observes McCloy, an engineer.
With current skipper Fergal Doherty unlikely to start against the Kingdom, this means that Derry will be minus a considerable slice of experience.
Oak Leaf manager Damian Cassidy believes that even though Doherty has made great progress since his injury, his lack of match practice could militate against them.
“It’s good to have Kevin and Fergal back, they give us options. But Fergals level of fitness would not be high enough for him to start the game," he explained.
"However, it's possible that he will be brought on at some stage depending on how things are going."
But there is certain to be a place for sharpshooter Paddy Bradley.
To some extent, Derry’s most renowned forward of the current era has been living somewhat in the shadow of his younger brother Eoin just now.
The latter captained Derry to victory over Donegal in their last league outing but Paddy’s return to the team for the league final will revive memories of his outstanding performance in the corresponding match last year when he started and then sealed Derry’s recovery from a seven-point deficit Parnell Park, Dublin.
Paddy, who spent some three months in Australia following last year’s International Rules series, is anxious to see Derry crowned league champions again.
“It would be nice to go into the championship with the league trophy in our keeping. The team has been doing well lately and obviously there is now stiff competition for starting places which is the way it should be,” insists Paddy.
Along with brother Eoin, he will have an added incentive to take Derry to glory again next week-end. Their father Liam has already masterminded Antrim’s progress into Division Three and while the boys are doing battle with Kerry, their dad will be overseeing Antrim’s bid to land the Division Four title when they meet Sligo at Pearse Park, Longford.
“It would be nice to land a family double in terms of titles, wouldn’t it?” smiles Paddy.