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Brian McIver gives Ballinderry stars time to collect thoughts

By Declan Bogue

Derry manager Brian McIver has said he will give Ballinderry's county contingent some time and space to get over their defeat to St Vincent's in Saturday's All-Ireland club semi-final before they are recalled to the Oak Leaf panel.

McIver – who led the Shamrocks to the All-Ireland club title in 2002 with victory over Nemo Rangers – was an interested spectator in Newry on Saturday with son Michael playing, and along with the rest of the county management kept a watching brief on potential talent.

Last season Ryan Bell, Ryan Scott, Aaron Devlin and Collie Devlin all played Championship football for Derry. Gareth McKinless was in the training squad and could have a bigger role to play. Daniel McKinless was an under-21 player last season and may make the step up to the senior panel, while Connor Nevin could also be considered.

However, nobody will be approached until McIver and his selectors have a meeting at training tonight.

"I know that the management were all keeping a keen eye on Saturday evening's game. We will meet up and discuss the game and then approach some of the players after a wee break and we will take it from there," revealed McIver.

He added: "Any lad that has played in an All-Ireland semi-final and ended up getting beaten, it's a big, big disappointment for the lads and I certainly would not be ringing them for three or four days."

One player who would seem unlikely to jump on the inter-county treadmill again is Collie Devlin. Playing at centre-forward on Saturday, he made a number of telling contributions and hit three points from play in the first half.

A heavy challenge at the start of the second half restricted his influence but speaking last week, Devlin, older brother of Aaron, said his work in London as a quantity surveyor with McAleer and Rushe would prevent him from joining up with the county squad.

Devlin commented: "A few of the lads in this club would like to play with the county too, but there is just so much commitment with the county.

"I am fortunate in that I am not married and have no children, but I have a job and that alone has me struggling to make training.

"I have to work over in London, pricing jobs all over London, meeting people on site so that, the way the industry is these days, there is a lot of pressure on us."

He added: "All of that takes its toll, unless you pack the work in, but that is not going to happen!"

Along with clubmates Conleith Gilligan and Michael McIver, Devlin is of the view that the extra commitment required is too much for them to give.

"I am not missing it at all," he said. "It's a big commitment nowadays. I missed a few seasons with injury there. I had two ankle operations, ligament injuries, the list goes on and on.

"But last year was with Brian and I got back on the panel, got a bit of form, got a bit of fitness and feeling confident, I thought I wanted to try it. It was a different ball game to what it was before. Very professional."

Derry meet Westmeath, whom they beat twice in last year's league, in their next game at home on March 2.

Belfast Telegraph


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