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Wheels in motion to fill Derry hotseat

By John Campbell

Four years ago Derry produced a stirring performance in the Ulster Championship to overcome Donegal by 1-14 to 1-12 at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.

Of that Donegal line-up, ten look certain to start in next month’s All Ireland final against either Dublin or Mayo.

These players such as Frank McGlynn, Neil Gallagher, Colm McFadden, Karl Lacey and Rory Kavanagh have all pocketed two Ulster Championship medals since Jim McGuinness took over as manager from John Joe Cunningham at the end of 2010.

Now they are in sight of the ultimate honour in the sport as members of a team that is being hailed as pioneers in unfurling a ‘new’ brand of gaelic football based on an unrelenting work ethic, supreme physical fitness and almost telepathic support play.

In contrast, Derry are in the doldrums. Their last Ulster title was won in 1998 and today the team is managerless, with the tenure of John Brennan (pictured) having ended following the depressing All Ireland qualifier defeat to Longford several weeks ago.

But with nominations for the position of manager already with the county board, moves are being made to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible.

And when the Derry Executive met last night to discuss the nominations for the post, the name of Liam Bradley, who resigned as Antrim boss yesterday, figured more prominently in the discussions than had been expected.

Yet there is no suggestion that Bradley is a strong frontrunner for the post.

Kilrea manager Paul Doherty, former Oak Leaf supremo Brian McIver and ex-player Gary Coleman are among those understood to be in the frame.

The county board will shortly commence the interview process but significant progress on this front is unlikely until the internal senior football championship has reached an advanced stage.

This is because some of those believed to have been nominated by clubs are currently involved with teams which are still in the competition.

John Brennan had served for a two-year term but that does not of course preclude him from being nominated again although there would appear to be a school of thought that would support a fresh face at the helm.

In this respect, Peter Doherty, who has made considerable strides with Kilrea and who has managed Tyrone at under-age level in the past, and Gary Coleman, who has overseen a dramatic renaissance within the Magherafelt O’Donovan Rossa club, could get strong backing.

Coleman is a son of the late Eamon Coleman who formerly managed Derry as indeed did Brian McIver, father of current Dromore manager Paul McIver who has guided the club to senior championship honours in the recent past.

While Derry officials are treading cautiously, the stunning progress being made by neighbours Donegal is helping to provide a spur towards building for the future.

Derry have retained their place in Division Two of the Allianz League for the 2013 season but there is a palpable desire within the county to see the side reach the top tier. And with some established players having called time on their county careers, the new manager will have the task of drawing up a squad that seems certain to contain a raft of fresh faces.

Belfast Telegraph

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