DERRY manager John Brennan refused to be drawn on his future after watching his side exit the All Ireland Qualifiers in controversial circumstances at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford on Saturday evening.
Michael Wilson reports
The disappointing three-point defeat was compounded by Sligo referee Michael Duffy’s decision to disallow a Joe Diver goal in Derry’s final attack of the game as players from both sides competed for a high ball played toward to edge of the squad.
After a season littered by bad luck and injuries, the performance in Longford was a marked improvement from the crushing Ulster Championship defeat in Ballybofey two weeks prior but it remains unclear whether the Lavey man will seek a third season in charge of the senior county side.
“I am not going to comment on that,” explained the Derry manager when asked after the game, “If I say anything, it will simply make a headline. I will talk to the players and talk to the people that matter in football in Derry. Listen, we have a lot of work to do in Derry.”
Without the likes of Gerard O’Kane, Eoin Bradley, Dermot McBride and Michael Bateson for large parts of the season has not helped Derry’s cause after a promising first season in charge for Brennan. During his first year, Derry lifted the McKenna Cup, narrowly missed out on promotion, made it through to an Ulster Final before eventually losing out to Kildare in the Qualifiers six days after the defeat to Donegal in the provincial decider.
Again at the weekend, key decisions went against Derry but Brennan conceded the panel had not been strong enough.
“I’m proud of the players. They came through a very topsy-turvy season. Yes, last year we won the McKenna Cup, missed out on goal difference for promotion and appeared in the Ulster final but this year everything went wrong. “The players we have sitting in the dug-out gives proof to the fact that we just haven’t a strong enough panel with the number of players we have missing. It’s not rocket science but I have to find players from somewhere.
“We have trained as much as anyone. Teams can go out and do all the training in the world and things still go wrong for them, sometimes they do much more training than those who are successful.
“That Derry team has trained, we have had weekends away. We have a very good backroom team and an excellent trainer. We did the weights, we did everything and lack of fitness didn’t beat us.
“How do I silence the critics? We could have silenced them had we scored more than Longford. We didn’t and they can put the boot in if they so wish,” he added.