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Barton's influence will drive up standards at Derry, insists Rogers

By Declan Bogue

New Derry manager Damian Barton has handed the over-worked Slaughtneil players some down-time before they link up with his county squad, but in the meantime two men will represent their province this weekend.

While Derry are playing Donegal in a challenge match at 1pm, Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue will be playing for Ulster against Connacht later in the evening at the Athletic Grounds.

For both men, it caps off an exhausting year that began with Slaughtneil chasing glory on the All-Ireland front, and ended with them retaining their Derry crowns in both hurling and football, but losing out on the Ulster stage.

It gives them time, however, to recharge their batteries before they commit to Barton, a man who actually handed Rogers his senior debut while in charge of Slaughtneil.

Rogers said: "I know him well because he took our club for a few years. I know what he is about. I played under him for about a year and a half."

As for what the Derry players can expect over the coming season, he backs up the initial impression of Barton being a no-nonsense type.

"He is very regimental. I would not say he is old school but he likes to make sure that the basics are done and done well. If you are not willing to work there is no point being in his plans," he continued.

"He sets very high standards and that is what you need from a county manager, from any manager. I enjoy him though, because he is always backing up players, he is a players' man.

"That is what you want, if you have a man who wants to listen to you then you want to play for him in return."

Barton has something of an unwanted record for managers, in that teams that he previously managed have a habit of winning Championships the year after he leaves.

This, however, is testament to his work in building the foundations for success, maintains Rogers.

"We were a team that were primed to peak for a couple of seasons but we were very unfortunate with a couple of results," he added.

"That we did not manage to win it while he was there is no reflection on the work that he put into our club. He was phenomenal and I would give him a lot of credit for what he put in place and for the players that he brought in.

"He is big into bringing in young players and a lot of boys got a chance under him. He certainly laid down good foundations for the likes of Cathal Corey and Mickey (Moran) to take it on."

Rogers has not got round to tallying up the amount of games he has played this year, but last year it stood at 49 all-in.

This year he expects to see more county action under Barton, while he will be declaring for Queen's in January's Dr McKenna Cup, leaving himself in direct opposition to his county.

In the meantime, he is on Ulster duty this evening.

"I found it very tough going at the end last year but this year I did not think it was as bad. Maybe I was just better prepared for the year ahead this time," he concluded.

Belfast Telegraph


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