Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

McIver’s key calls could tip the balance in Derry’s favour

Derry manager Brian McIver will make two decisions within the next 48 hours that could have a big bearing on how his team perform in the Allianz National League.

The Oak Leaf boss is set to name his captain for the competition and must also choose between Dermot McBride and Chrissy McKaigue for the full-back position.

In the four matches that Derry have played this year, four different players have fulfiled the role of skipper.

In the McKenna Cup, McBride led the side against Tyrone while Mark Lynch was at the helm against UUJ before Barry McGoldrick subsequently wore the armband when Antrim were the opposition.

Then in a challenge game against St Mary’s University College it was McKaigue who led the side.

Now McIver is expected to formally choose his 2013 captain from this quartet and he will also give special consideration to the composition of his defence with particular regard to the full-back line.

McBride has played at right-half-back in the past, but has since morphed into a fine full-back while McKaigue also brings impressive credentials to the table for this position for which there has not exactly been a queue of candidates since Kevin McCloy retired.

McBride missed virtually all of last season through injury and is desperately keen to help his county emerge from the shadows.

The Oak Leaf side lost to Tyrone, beat UUJ and then drew with Antrim in the McKenna Cup, but McBride believes that while results were not all that they might have been, the discovery of some new players more than atoned for this.

“Brian McIver made it clear from the outset that he was more interested in getting his squad right for the league rather than winning the McKenna Cup and in that respect the matches we played in the competition were very beneficial,” explains McBride.

Galway will be Derry’s first opponents in the league on Sunday at Pearse Stadium, Salthill and McBride, contemplating a McIver line-up that will contain a mix of old and new faces, is in no doubt that this will be a major test of character.

“Galway look to be getting ready for a real push in the league and I have no doubt that they will want to win the Connacht title again,” said McBride.

“This being the case, we are going to have to be at our best if we want to return on Sunday with something in the bag.

“I missed the Championship last year and we also had a number of other players out at that time.

“So you could say that in a manner of speaking we are starting from scratch under a new manager and with fresh players in, but that’s the challenge that is really helping to fire us up.”

Derry briefly flirted with promotion in last year’s league, but their prospects of making it into Division One were not helped by the fact that the then manager John Brennan had upwards on 10 established players unavailable to him at various stages.

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