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Derry closing in on second trophy

Derry manager Brian McIver certainly won't be shouting it from the rooftops but his team now stand a realistic chance of landing their second trophy within a two-month spell.

Prior to Christmas, the Oak Leaf side maintained an unblemished record in winning the O'Fiach Cup and, having already claimed the considerable scalp of Ulster champions Monaghan, they find themselves with home advantage against Fermanagh on Sunday and St Mary's on Wednesday in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup.

If the form they have displayed since their early return to action at the start of December is to be taken as a gauge, then Derry have no reason for apprehension as they seek to thwart Tyrone's bid to make it a hat-trick of triumphs.

McIver quietly preaches caution, however, as his team begin to cement the cohesion and work ethic that could yet underpin progress in the more turbulent arena of Allianz League Division One from next month onwards.

Nor is the early season activity merely permitting Derry's personable manager the opportunity to assess players who may have been regarded as peripheral up until now but who are making a bold statement of intent in terms of securing regular slots.

It is also providing him with a valuable insight as to the depth of leadership incorporated in a line-up that merges youth and experience, steel and style, rugged defiance and subtle finishing.

When Derry claimed the O'Fiaich Cup, Chrissy McKaigue wore the captain's armband and now that he has temporarily switched allegiance to anchor the UUJ defence in the McKenna Cup, James Kielt finds himself at the helm of operations.

Certainly the burden of extra responsibility rested comfortably on his shoulders when he scored 1-5 against Monaghan on Sunday.

In the side too were Fergal Doherty, Dermot McBride and Mark Lynch all of whom have captained Derry in the past.

Lynch has already been nominated to lead the team in the league and championship this year but this does not prevent McIver from rotating the role for the early season action.

"We were delighted to win the O'Fiaich Cup and we resolved to keep going at the same level in the McKenna Cup," says McIver.

"We have Fermanagh coming to us on Sunday then we must face St Mary's next Wednesday and these matches will hopefully provide us as a management team with further information which should stand to us for the league."

Belfast Telegraph


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