Belfast Telegraph

GAA: Cup a quiet start to Moran's third stint

By Bernie Mullan

DERRY will play their first competitive game under Mickey Moran on Sunday as his third spell in charge of the county team begins.

DERRY will play their first competitive game under Mickey Moran on Sunday as his third spell in charge of the county team begins.

The fixture is a Ballinascreen engagement against Monaghan in the much-maligned Dr McKenna Cup, 2pm.

When Moran, as a 29-year-old player, started a four-year stint with Derry in 1981 the Dr McKenna was a major competition which all Ulster counties sought to win.

Now it returns after a two-year absence and counties are using it for experimental purposed only.

Rumour has it that Moran will field the Derry under-21 team, a tactic they have used in the past.

Moran feels at the cup has come far too early when most counties are just beginning their training programme.

The under-21 squad has put in some hard work over the winter and with their championship game against Donegal coming up in March it will be a rare opportunity for them to get some action.

Monaghan are more likely to field a strong side. Under new manager Colm Coyle, the former Meath hardman with Donegal, they have chalked up some useful performances in challenge games with wins over Donegal and Meath and a draw with Cavan.

Moran, Liam Bradley and Richard Ferris are charged with the duty and care of the under-21 team.

At this level Derry have a pretty miserable record since they won the All Ireland title in 197.

With the minors winning the All Ireland title last year Moran will be anxious to continue the upward trend of young players.

Since taking over as team boss he moved quickly to establish a strong back-up for his senior squad of 31 players.

A development squad of 23 have been in training and that does not include any current under-21 player.

This squad is getting the same coaching as the seniors and Moran will be hopeful of unearthing new talent.

In his stints with Sligo and Donegal he was reputed for making silk purses out of sows' ears.

After last year's disaster hopes are high that Moran can turn things around but it will take time.

The last three links with the 1993 team look to be all but gone,

Gary Coleman was not included in the squad while Anthony Tohill and Dermot Heaney look as if injury may have terminated their county careers.

No doubt Moran will be clinging to the hope that Tohill is not out of the equation just yet.

Provided that Sunday's game beats the weather there should be a good crowd o football-starved fans.

The result either way will hardly shake the football world.

Three weeks after this game Monaghan come to Derry in the national league division two as the real season gets underway.

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