Brian McIver adds Eoin Bradley to the Derry attack
Star forward had been struggling with a shoulder injury
Derry’s Eoin Bradley and Sligo’s Charlie Harrison last weekend. Bradley started on the bench last week but will start against Down tomorrow. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho
Derry manager Brian McIver adds Eoin Bradley to his attack for tomorrow’s All-Ireland qualifier against Down.
Bradley had been struggling with a shoulder injury and could only feature off the bench in last weekend’s victory over Sligo. Teenager Ciarán McFaul makes way as the 29-year-old is named at full forward with Lee Kennedy switching to the corner.
Experienced defender Gerard O’Kane has failed to recover from a knee injury. This concern is enhanced by Down manager James McCartan having the option of unleashing off the bench the fit again engine of 2010 All Star Danny Hughes.
The repeat showing of Derry and Down takes place at 5pm tomorrow evening in Celtic Park just over a month since the latter knocked the former out of the Ulster football championship at the quarter-final stage.
Down prevailed 2-17 to 1-15, in a match widely considered to be the footballing spectacle of the summer thus far, before narrowly losing the Ulster semi-final to defending champions Donegal. Derry swept past Sligo last Sunday but the cruel irony of the draw brings the neighbouring counties into direct contact yet again. Congress passed a motion to allow this happen.
That’s the team news and match day information but what isn’t widely apparent, outside Derry GAA circles, is the number of teenagers at McIver’s disposal. Much like he did when Donegal manager a few years ago, he identified and called up young talent straight out of minor age grade.
There are six teenagers in the current Derry panel: Declan Brown starts at corner back tomorrow, Ryan Bell in the full forward line alongside Bradley and Conor McAtamney at wing forward.
The other three – McFaul, Ryan Dougan and James Kearney – are held in reserve. McFaul and Dougan won an Ulster minor club title under the guidance of 1993 All-Ireland winner and two-time All Star Enda Gormley.
Such quality really should have been flagged by Derry’s minor success but that was denied by defeat to Tyrone last year. However, St Pat’s Maghera arguably denied them the services of several players until it was too late.
McAtamney captained St Pat’s to the MacRory Cup last year while Kearney shined in midfield on this year’s Hogan Cup winning side.
In Donegal, McIver introduced five of last season’s All-Ireland winning group – Michael Murphy, Anthony Thompson, David Walsh, Declan Walsh and Leo McLoone – to the senior panel.
It is no guarantee of reversing the five-point defeat to Down on June 2nd but it certainly gives McIver options.
DERRY (SFC v Down): E McNicholl; D Brown, C McKaigue, D McBride; C Kielt, M Lynch, SL McGoldrick; P Bradley, PJ McCloskey; C McAtamney, J Kielt, E Lynn; L Kennedy, E Bradley, R Bell.