DERRY have been dealt another injury blow this week after full-back Eugene Scullion was ruled out for at least three weeks with a broken thumb.
Michael Wilson reports
The Bellaghy man picked up the injury this week when the car he was driving was involved in a collision, leaving his hand in partial plaster. The injury is a major setback for Scullion who had made an impressive debut against Cavan before being very harshly sent off on a second booking by Fermanagh referee Martin Higgins.
With Barry and Sean Leo McGoldrick also picking up injures in the game, the Oak Leaf casualty list continues to grow although confirmation that both Paddy Bradley and Joe Diver will feature tomorrow has eased the burden slightly.
The loss of Scullion will be keenly felt though after a debut which suggested Derry had found the answer to their problematic full-back position.
“Eugene’s injury is a real shame because he had a very good game against Cavan and was looking like the answer to our full-back position,” admitted Derry manager John Brennan.
“He had shown good pace and his man never collected the ball without Eugene close behind. His sending off was very harsh but he will probably be out now for at least three weeks as it’s a bad enough break.
The Derry manager said he was pleased with his team’s performance last Sunday but admitted he would rotate his squad again with a likely debut for Steelstown’s Neil Forrester and the return of both Bradley and Diver.
“Paddy Bradley and Joe Diver will both get game-time at some stage. Paddy needs to get out and play, for himself, to build up that confidence again. You can train and train all day long but you never really know if you’re fully back until you get out in a match situation. It’s the same situation with Joe.
“I was very pleased with the players last weekend and every substitute that came on helped us. Cavan were well prepared and seemed more up for the game than us but it can be difficult to sustain that level of intensity throughout the season. I prefer to try and build it up so you have it when you really need it.”
With Jordanstown upsetting Ulster champions Donegal last weekend in Letterkenny, Brennan has warned against underestimating the students. Indeed victory for either in tomorrow night game would put them in prime position to qualify from Section C.
“We are still preparing for the start of the League but this is a game we want to win. We want to go to Donegal with two wins and, hopefully, progress because the more games you get in the McKenna Cup the better prepared you are for the league.
“Like Cavan, Jordanstown will be well prepared. I know some counties like Tyrone have withdrawn their players but they will still have a strong panel with plenty of inter-county experience, last week’s result against Donegal shows that.
“If ever they needed a confidence booster, to defeat the Ulster champions in Donegal, that was it so we know it will be tough. The bottom line is I don’t want to lose any game I play so we will be looking to win the game.”