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Ulster Championship: Derry stalwarts back to boost boss Brennan

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Derry manager John Brennan

Derry manager John Brennan

©INPHO/Margaret McLaughlin

Derry manager John Brennan

Derry manager John Brennan, who is preparing to make his Ulster Championship baptism on the sideline against Fermanagh on May 22, is experiencing mixed emotions as his team step up their preparations for the tie.

Gerard O’Kane and Martin Donaghy have joined the injury list but the return of stalwarts Kevin McGuckin and Enda Muldoon has bolstered morale within the Oak Leaf camp.

A wrist injury has disrupted O’Kane’s training while Donaghy, introduced to the attack during the second half of the National League, picked up a hamstring injury while playing for his club.

McGuckin’s reappearance though will certainly help to boost Derry’s defensive options. The cultured right-full-back, who played a big part in helping Ballinderry to win the All Ireland club title in 2002, has endured a traumatic period because of injuries.

He sustained a broken fibia in his ankle in 2007 and 18 months later suffered a broken bone in his hand. Last year he sustained broken ribs and a punctured lung in a club game and spent a lengthy spell in recovery.

However, he will bring extra experience to the Derry squad while Muldoon’s versatility — he can play either at midfield or in attack — will offer Brennan options.

“It’s encouraging to have Kevin back in the panel after such a lengthy absence. He has certainly had his problems with injuries as indeed has Enda over the past couple of years in particular. Obviously we have other injuries at the moment but hopefully things will improve between now and the date of the Fermanagh game,” said Derry spokesman Chris McCann.

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Indeed, when Derry met Sligo in a challenge match at the week-end Brennan could only call on 18 fully-fit players from his panel of 30. But the Lavey man is not unduly perturbed as he bids to restore Derry’s credibility in the championship arena.

They have not reigned supreme in the province since 1998 and that 13-year title famine means extra pressure accompanies the countdown to the meeting with a Fermanagh side that last reached the Ulster final in 2008 when they fell to Armagh after a replay.

Even though they are currently not taking a full part in training, O’Kane and Donaghy are expected to be fit to face John O’Neill’s side in Celtic Park.


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