Long-serving Derry midfield ace Patsy Bradley believes that the single-minded approach adopted by manager Brian McIver can provide further rich dividends for a side that has already gained promotion and been crowned Division Two Allianz League champions.
The Slaughtneil clubman, lauded for a five-star display in the divisional shoot-out against Westmeath on Saturday at Croke Park, hails McIver’s courage in infiltrating his side with youthful talent in a bid to restore Derry as a football power.
“You would have to say that Brian has taken a bold gamble but it is paying off,” asserts Bradley.
“These young guys who have come in are pushing the rest of us in training and matches and this is helping to bring out the best in the team as a whole.
“They have stepped up to the mark very impressively in my view and they give us all great hope for the future.”
At 29, Bradley is the senior citizen in the Derry side but he insists he relishes the challenge of keeping pace with his younger colleagues.
“They are making it hot for the rest of us in more ways than one but then the important thing is that the team is doing well,” declares Bradley.
It was his midfield partner 19-year-old Ryan Bell who created a huge impact with his eye-catching aerial ability against Westmeath when he again deputised for the injured P J McCloskey at Croke Park.
“Guys like Ryan have no fear of playing in big games now and this augers well for us in the championship,” points out Bradley.
Bell along with Daniel Haveron, Lee Kennedy, Benny Heron and Emmet McGuckin have now thrust themselves forcibly into the hunt for starting places in the Ulster championship quarter-final against Down on June 2.
“Brian McIver firmly believes that if a player is good enough then he is old enough and this theory is being proved as we move along,” adds Bradley.
However, while Derry have considerable cause for optimism, there is grave concern surrounding the fitness of Raymond Wilkinson.
He incurred a knee injury in the 40th minute against Westmeath.
Wilkinson was due to have a further scan on his leg yesterday, and the full extent of the damage he suffered has yet to be confirmed.
“We will await a report and take things from there.
“Raymond has been playing very well and obviously we want him on board for the Ulster Championship — indeed, we would want everyone at full fitness for the competition,” states manager McIver.