McIver’s relishing new lease of life at Derry
With or without Queen's taking part, the show must go on with the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup and it represents a chance for the GAA public to observe a number of managers in their first year in charge of new postings.
One of those candidates — Derry's Brian McIver — bounds back into the public eye when his side meet Tyrone on January 6. It represents a novel situation for the manager, given that he is famously from Tyrone, played his club football with Ardboe, yet managed Ballinderry to the All-Ireland club title of 2002 — the club that straddles the Tyrone-Derry border.
Upon leaving the job of Donegal manager in 2008, he had vowed to never manage against them. But forever is a long time, and soon his nous and expertise was called upon by James McCartan who added him to the Down backroom teams as they made it to the 2010 All-Ireland final.
Having also helped his son Paul with the Derry minors, he admits that he was ready for the challenge of managing at inter-county level again.
“I'm looking forward to it,” he said. “I know I said at the time when I left Donegal that I would find it very hard to manage against them, but like everything else, things change and move on. I have been put forward a couple of times in relation to the Derry job and I always said no. Whenever some of the clubs nominated me this time I thought, 'well, I'm in good health thank God, and 10 years from now I might look back and say I should have done that.”
He continued: “It's early days, we are only starting off, but I have attended a good deal of the league and Championship matches in Derry and to be fair, the lads that we have brought in are working very hard. But we will only see how things are going whenever we kick into the competitive games.”
After appointing Ballinascreen full-back Dermot McBride as captain for the forthcoming January series of games, McIver has been happy to allow his students play for their college teams. When they meet Jordanstown in the group stages he will be able to watch the progress of Chrissy McKaigue and Emmett McGuckian.
Now that Queen's have withdrawn, he will be able to call on the services of James Kielt and Kevin Johnston, while his county selector Paddy Tally will be on sideline duty as manager of St Mary's, who will be fielding Benny Herron and Emmett Bradley.
Now that Eoin Bradley is now fully recovered from that tragedy of fate when he ruptured his cruciate ligament a week before the 2011 Ulster final, he is included in the squad, but they are left without his talented older brother Paddy, a victim of his second cruciate injury back in September.
McIver states they will continue to monitor Paddy's form when he resumes action with Glenullin.