McIver putting Derry bid down to experience
National Football League
Derry manager Brian McIver is poised to turn to his old guard as his side seek a lifeline in Division Two of the Allianz Football League when they host Laois at Celtic Park on Sunday.
It may seem incongruous to be dwelling on survival with just one round of fixtures completed but such is the intensely competitive nature of the second tier section that another defeat coming on the back of last Sunday's eclipse by Galway could have serious repercussions for the Oak Leaf side.
And it's for this reason that McIver is likely to lean on former skippers Barry McGoldrick and Gerard O'Kane to fire up his team for what is their biggest challenge of the year so far.
Neither McGoldrick nor O'Kane started against Galway but were quickly summoned from the bench when Derry were listing.
While they exerted a stabilising influence, they could not prevent Galway by coming out on top by 1-15 to 0-15, thanks in the main to a rather lucky goal from Michael Meehan. McIver, though, is urging his players to put that match behind them and confront Laois, who beat Armagh on Saturday, with a positive mindset.
"While we made mistakes against Galway after letting them get off to a good start, we will have learned from that and I think we will be more cohesive against Laois," says McIver.
McGoldrick could be handed the centre threequarters berth as Ryan Bell is expected to be on duty with the Ballinderry side that will meet Donegal respresentatives Naomh Conaill in the quarter-finals of the Ulster Club U21 competition at the Kickhams Creggan club.
O'Kane, meanwhile, looks certain to be deployed in the half-back line where his workrate and experience could prove more than useful. Skipper Mark Lynch is expected to fill the centre-half-back role again but may get the opportunity to drive forward more often if McGoldrick can drop back to provide cover for him.
McIver is giving nothing away just now but the Oak Leaf boss concedes that back to back defeats would be a "far from ideal way" in which to start the league.
"We would need to get something out of this game to keep our hopes of promotion alive. It's so easy to slip into a relegation dog-fight given the competitive nature of Division Two.".