Enda Muldoon, Joe Diver and James Kielt will have the chance to get their careers in the Derry colours back on track when they are pitched into action against Carlow in Saturday’s first round All Ireland Football Qualifier at Dr Cullen Park (5pm).
All three were conspicuous by their absence when Derry fell to Armagh in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship at Celtic Park last month but are ready to step up to the mark as manager Damian Cassidy seeks to further bolster the Oak Leaf side’s record in the Qualifiers.
Since this concept was adopted 10 years ago, Derry have played 21 games and won 15 giving them the second best percentage record of any team in the series apart from Kerry — and it goes without saying that the Kingdom have played far fewer Qualifier matches than the vast majority of sides.
Muldoon, fully-fit again, and Diver are expected to form the Derry midfield in the anticipated absence of Patsy Bradley and Fergal Doherty while Kielt will be restored to the attack.
He is likely to be joined by Eoin and his brother Paddy, Mark Lynch, Raymond Wilkinson and either Sean Leo McGoldrick or Declan Mullan in the Derry front line with manager Cassidy anxious to see a greater degree of accuracy revealed against a Carlow defence that laboured for the most part in Division Four of the National League.
“We had a lot of injuries last year and we thought we had put all that behind us,” says Cassidy.
“When we played Tyrone in the Ulster Championship semi-final we had about seven players missing and things really do not seem to have got an awful lot better this year. But we have to get on with it starting with this game against Carlow on Saturday.”