NEW Derry Senior Football manager, Brian McIver, claims he is not at all surprised at Donegal’s meteoric rise to prominence which culminated in Sunday’s fantastic four-point All-Ireland Final victory over Mayo in Croke Park.
Michael Wilson reports
The Ballinderry man, who was in charge of the Tir Chonaill County six years ago and, indeed, presented a senior debut to current captain, Michael Murphy, said he was delighted for Jim McGuinness and his players, most of whom he had worked with during his tenure.
“Donegal did very well and they fully deserved their All-Ireland victory,” said McIver, “From the starting 15 in Croke Park on Sunday, I think I worked with all of them with the exceptions of Patrick McBrearty and Paddy McGrath and they were all good fellas and great to work with.”
During his time in charge of Donegal, McIver took them into Division One in his first season before leading them the National League title the following season in 2007 and he claimed he was already beginning to see the signs of a shift in fortunes.
“Some people might have been surprised at how Donegal have done over the past couple of years, but I had no doubt that these players had this level of performance in them.
“A lot of the players were just coming through to the senior panel when I was in charge but, for example, the first time I saw Michael Murphy I knew he would be a star. I gave him his senior debut against Westmeath I think and he scored a goal that night, but you could see straight away he had everything. Here was a 17 or 18 year-old lad coming into the senior team and he was already prepared to step up and hit a penalty on his debut.
“They had been written off after the Armagh Championship defeat a couple of years back, but it shows you never know in football and the hard work they have put in paid off on Sunday last.
“I haven’t been speaking to any of the Donegal players, but I texted them my congratulations after the game. A lot of people have been saying a fair bit about the state of Ulster football recently but Donegal are the All-Ireland champions and deservedly so which must say something good about the standard in Ulster.”
McIver’s joy at watching players he knows well lifting the game’s ultimate prize was tempered somewhat by news of a potentially serious injury to star forward Paddy Bradley. Last year’s Derry captain is believed to have picked up a knee injury last week while training with Glenullin in preparation for last weekend’s Kilmacud “Sevens.”
Bradley fought his way back superbly from a career threatening cruciate ligament injury sustained at the beginning of the 2011 season and will have the injury assessed later this week.
“Paddy injured himself training last week but we won’t know anything more until later this week when he has an appointment and I can’t say anything more than that,” added the Derry manager.
Looking at Donegal’s All-Ireland success from a Derry perspective, McIver said it illustrated the value of hard work.
“There is no point in me making bold predictions about where Derry could be in the future but I know there is the talent in Derry.
“We have been out scouting at a number of Championship games since I took up the post. I prefer to go out myself and look at players rather than having people report to me so I have seen a number of games and, generally speaking, they have been good games. The trials will take place on October 20th and 27th which will give us an idea of where we are at,” he added.