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Bradley calls for greater self-belief in Derry side as O'Neill comes under fire


By John Campbell

The knives may be out for Kildare manager Cian O'Neill following his team's shock dismissal from the Leinster Championship at the hands of Carlow on Sunday, but this will certainly not breed the slightest element of complacency within the Derry camp in advance of Saturday week's All-Ireland qualifier against the Lilywhites

O'Neill has certainly had to bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune this week but his Oak Leaf counterpart Damian McErlain is keeping his head below the parapet and instead focussing on re-building belief and composure within his side following their Ulster Championship defeat to Donegal.

"We have to be ready to go again and show that we have absorbed lessons from the Donegal game," insists McErlain.

"We are at home but Kildare will be wounded and therefore they will be very dangerous opponents."

Emmet Bradley, who scored precisely half of Derry's total against Donegal (0-8), is among those who is convinced that a lack of self-belief is hampering the side in its bid to make meaningful progress.

Bradley's superb performance has ignited the belief that with more accuracy, Derry, who shot 13 wides against Donegal, could make an impact in the qualifiers, and Bradley himself is keen to see greater confidence portrayed by team-mates.

"It is up to us to get our house in order and reach the fitness levels of the top teams," asserts Bradley. "We need to keep building if we manage to get a run through the qualifiers.

"We need, too, to believe we can put in better performances and challenge the big guns."

The criticism to which Kildare and manager O'Neill have been subjected to since Sunday has made a deep impact within the county, which spawns the notion that the side will be particularly keen to make a big statement against Derry in a qualifier which will certainly come into the national spotlight.

Recently-retired Tyrone skipper Sean Cavanagh is among those who have taken Kildare, who did not win a single league game prior to their relegation, to task.

"It is just not good enough for Kildare football now that their team should put in a performance like they did against Carlow," said Cavanagh. "We don't want to take away from Carlow's day in the sun but Kildare people feel very sore right now."

Cavanagh also questioned the deployment of certain Kildare players as the inquest into Sunday's setback continues.

It was the first occasion in 65 years that Carlow got the better of the Lilywhites in a Championship encounter and, having already got promotion to Division Three, Carlow are hoping for an extended summer campaign.

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