National Football League: Brennan backing the kids of Derry
For the best part of his reign as Derry manager Damian Cassidy, who stood down last year, had just cause to lament an injury list that was daunting to say the least.
But if Oak Leaf followers were under the impression that new manager John Brennan might enjoy much better fortune in terms of player availability then they have been forced to have a re-think.
Right now no fewer than nine Derry players are out because of injury while three others are still re-acclimatising themselves within the squad having been on duty for their universities lately.
Conleith Gilligan, Barry McGoldrick, Michael Drumm, Mark Lynch and Brian McCallion are all currently suffering from varying degrees of hamstring injuries while Joe Diver (cruciate ligament), James Conway (medial ligament) and Patsy Bradley (back problem) are also out of the equation.
In addition, the versatile Liam Hinphey, who is also an accomplished hurler, is still troubled by an ongoing groin injury.
James Kielt, Caolan O’Boyle and Charlie Kielt just recently returned to the Derry fold having been on university during the McKenna Cup competition which meant of course that they were ineligible to play any part in last Saturday’s win over Tyrone in the final of the competition.
Given this litany of unavailability, the wonder is that Derry were able to field a side against the Red Hands never mind win the game.
But even though he has been given plenty of food for thought in advance of next Sunday’s important Allianz Football League Division Two meeting with Sligo, manager Brennan remains unperturbed about his formidable injury list.
“Obviously some of the more long-term injuries are a source of concern but we have to get on with it. I am trying to be as positive as possible and the fact that some new players have been bedding down in the side has been very encouraging,” says Brennan.
When his side lost to Laois by 14 points in their last league outing Brennan and his players came under fire from Oak Leaf followers.
But the manager believes that the McKenna Cup final win over Tyrone will prove a good omen for the remainder of the league.
“We have a lot of young players who are involved in county football for the first time. We have to be patient with them and not expect too much. Injuries are going to happen as they do with all teams and we have to be able to respond to situations,” insists Brennan.
Danny Devlin, Aidan McAlynn, Ciaran Mullan, P J McCloskey, Martin Donaghy, Ciaran McGolrick and Brian McCallion are certainly not household names in an Oak Leaf context but all these players contributed hugely to the McKenna Cup final victory.
And this is one of the reasons why Brennan will be filled with optimism when he leads his side to Sligo this weekend.
“It’s very heartening to see players like these all coming through so well but we all recognise that the biggest challenges still lie ahead. We are looking no further than Sligo on Sunday.
“The second half of the league is going to be very difficult but if we can get some of our injured players fit again and assuming that we don’t pick up any more knocks then I would think we have a chance of being in at the death,” says Brennan.