Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

McIver’s case for defence keeps getting stronger

Brian McIver

Derry manager Brian McIver has received a boost as he bids to strengthen his defence for 2013.

Chrissy McKaigue turned in a five-star performance for Ulster against Donegal in the ‘Match for Michaela’ on Saturday night while Gerard O’Kane is intent on regaining full fitness after experiencing considerable frustration this year because of a recurring leg injury.

McKaigue elicited warm praise from Ulster manager Joe Kernan for his show of defiance against the Donegal attack at Casement Park in the rather unaccustomed position of left-full-back and looks set to be a key figure in the Derry rearguard next year.

“I think Chrissy is a fine player who has obviously benefited from the spell he had playing Rules football in Australia. He has bulked up and is a super athlete, someone who I think will come very much to the fore next year,” states Kernan.

The Slaughtneil player has, of course, already played in what has been the problem position of full-back for Derry in the recent past and looks certain to become a regular in the No 3 shirt next year.

And O’Kane is expected to be back challenging for a place in the half-back line.

It had been thought initially that the door had been closed to the Glenullin clubman because of his injury woes this year which commenced as far back as the McKenna Cup in January.

The former Derry captain is still keen to represent his county and should he regain full fitness, manager McIver will almost certainly wish to avail of his experience and stamina, especially as his team is not particularly well endowed with seasoned defenders.

Ballinderry’s defeat by Errigal Ciaran in the Ulster Club Championship last weekend means that more players will now be available to McIver for the opening segment of the 2013 campaign, however.

Meanwhile Eoin Bradley |(pictured), having returned from a brief stay in Perth, is hoping to recapture the form he showed with Derry two years ago.

Bradley has recovered from a cruciate ligament injury which severely disrupted his involvement with Derry and looks certain to be handed a pivotal slot in the county team’s attack.

But there is still speculation that his brother Paddy, for so long Derry’s top scorer, may decide to opt for a career in management or pursue his media interests — or perhaps both.

The 31-year-old missed this year’s Ulster Championship because of a cruciate ligament injury and is to undergo surgery for the problem.

He has indicated that he is considering his future but having already gained some experience as a gaelic games radio analyst he may well wish to pursue this particular activity.

Should Bradley decide to follow a career in management, there is no doubt that quite a number of clubs, particularly in Derry, would be keen to avail of his services given the iconic status which he still enjoys in the county.

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