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Ulster Championship: Derry players must prove themselves, says Brennan

By John Campbell

Derry manager John Brennan has interesting selection options as he ponders an Ulster final meeting with either Tyrone or Donegal next month.

His team’s emphatic nine-point win over Armagh on Sunday not only sparked the belief that the county’s provincial title famine might be about to end, but further intensified competition for starting places in the decider.

Brennan replaced full-back Kevin McCloy with Kevin McGuckin and centre-three-quarter Caolan O’Boyle with James Kielt for the match against the Orchard County and both players distinguished themselves in the victory.

In addition, Brennan deployed Ciaran Mullan, Emmet McGuckin, Ciaran McGoldrick and O’Boyle as substitutes and all looked sharp as Derry bossed the crucial final quarter.

The victory was achieved, too, without two of Derry’s most high-profile players, Paddy Bradley and Gerard O’Kane, both currently out injured.

Bradley, Derry’s leading scorer for the best part of a decade, will now miss the Ulster final, but O’Kane (pictured) might just nose into contention for a place.

Not surprisingly, Brennan has thrown down the gauntlet to his players to challenge for places in the final.

“We’re in an Ulster final now and I want to win something,” said Brennan. “Confidence is oozing at the moment because these boys proved they’re good players. If we play like we did against Armagh we will possibly beat anyone.

“I said if we got over the line against Armagh then Derry would be heard of later in the year. It’s up to the players now to prove themselves again.”

Man of the match Eoin Bradley has confirmed that Derry’s championship ambition had been to win back-to-back games.

“This is something that we have not done for 13 years and we knew that if we could achieve this then it would get us into an Ulster final,” says Bradley.

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