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Astute McIver will make life very difficult for Donegal

By Peter Canavan

If there is one thing Derry managed to do during the National League, it was to make life extremely uncomfortable for the opposition. Their set-up against Tyrone and Dublin was a clear indication that they can play an ultra-defensive system.

I know it doesn't sit naturally with Brian McIver and it is not his natural philosophy on how to play Gaelic football, but I would say he is a realist and he is a winner and he will do whatever it takes to win.

Derry have options in defence. They have options offensively as well in that they have Cailean O'Boyle back and he provides a target on the edge of the square.

I don't think they will leave Eoin Bradley in there to be swallowed up. I think they will want to get him on the ball and let him get a few scores from outside the 'D'.

Gareth McKinless is just back after his suspension was overturned and although McIver has said he will not be in contention, he would relish the prospect of picking up the best player in Ireland in Michael Murphy.

They will follow Tyrone's template of man-marking Murphy and Ryan McHugh. Who they decide to do that, I am not too sure, but McKinless' best game is as a man-marker, so I would not be surprised to see him perform that role.

Yes, Donegal will progress, but they will require more patience and guile than what was needed against Armagh. They are the form team at present, playing a well-rehearsed, structured game.

My concern for Donegal is that it is very early in the season to be reaching such high standards and I feel it's inevitable that the juggernaut - with all that mileage - will soon run out of gas.

Belfast Telegraph


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