Ryan Bell will make his Championship debut when he lines out against Down in Celtic Park later today.
The teenage midfielder has been a revelation under new Derry boss Brian McIver and is relishing the challenge of helping his county reach the semi-finals of the Ulster Championships.
“Everything is going well, there is a great buzz about the camp at training. everyone is working very hard but we are looking forward to this game. Hopefully that hard work will pay off next week,” said Ballinderry youngster Bell.
Bell played an important part in helping Derry win the National Football League Division Two title, an experience he hopes will help the team to another win over Down in Celtic Park today.
“Down have been playing regularly over the last few years against the top teams. I am not saying the teams we were playing against were bad sides, far from it, but the more experience you get against the best teams the better.
“Hopefully winning the after we won the league that boost will help us.
“Our stall at the start of the league was to try and go the whole way and avoid defeat but after losing to Galway in the first game, we went back to training and worked even harder. The results started to come and thankfully we won it.”
Bell is adept both in midfield as an attacker. His most notable performance for the Oak Leafers was against Westmeath in the Division Two final. Despite his good performances Bell has kept his feet on the ground and praised team mate Patsy Bradley and Mark Lynch for their guidance and support.
“This is only my first year but I had heard that maybe when things weren’t going that well people didn’t always get along with each other but this year everybody is getting along and everything is going well. The boys are helping each other, the older players like Patsy Bradley and Mark Lynch are helping players like myself. There is good communication about the camp,” he said.
The youngster said he has enjoyed playing under new Derry boss Brian McIver and explained how competition for places in the starting line up has been very intense.
“Brian has brought a winning mentality with him but he hasn’t really set us any goals about what we have to win or the such, he just wants us to play to our best and see where those results take us. He has tried to get us concentrating on each game, one at a time and take it from there. He is always insisting on thinking no further than the match in front of us.”
He continued: “In the past maybe there were the same faces about the place but all I can tell you is there is a serious amount of competition this year.
“There are three or four players in the panel for almost every position and that puts you under pressure. If you don’t perform you know what is going to happen. There is always someone waiting to take the shirt off you if you have it. That’s a good thing. If anyone gets injured there always seems to be someone equally as good to step in.”