O’Kane, McBride back for Farney test

©/Presseye.com - 4th February 2012. Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - Allianz Football League Division 2. Derry V Galway at Celtic Park.''Derry Senior Football team.''Mandatory Credit Photo Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

©/Presseye.com - 4th February 2012. Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - Allianz Football League Division 2. Derry V Galway at Celtic Park.''Derry Senior Football team.''Mandatory Credit Photo Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

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JOHN Brennan is hoping to have Gerard O’Kane and Dermot McBride available ahead of what the Derry manager describes as the pivotal games of his side’s National League campaign.

Michael Wilson reports

The Oak Leafers have yet to register a win after two games having suffered a string of injuries to key men but Brennan believes victory tomorrow evening against Monaghan in Celtic Park (throw-in 7.30pm) could transform their season.

“I have said many times, the third and fourth game of an eight game league are the important ones,” explained the Derry manager.

“I have seen teams over the years flying away then suffering a blip in the third game and it automatically follows that there is a blip in the fourth game. If we can win the third and fourth games, things can turn on just one small thing and that’s what we’ll be aiming for.”

Conleith Gilligan is the latest doubt having picked up an injury playing for Ulster in last weekend’s inter-provincial final, something which his manager says is indicative of how Derry luck has gone this season.

“I’m hoping Gerard O’Kane and Dermot McBride are available. We have missed those fellas, they’re part of the central spine of the team and if you are missing the spine, then you are in trouble.

“If you want to reflect on where our problems arise from, look at last week’s inter-provincials. There were 37 players used and only one player from those 37 was injured and he was the lone Derryman. That just sums up how our misfortune is going this year.

“It gets laborious and repetitive and I’m not making a big deal of it but we’re having to throw players in that are in their first year on the panel and they’re not ready for it, that’s basically it.

“I can’t go any further, it is something unbelievable. This time last year we were where Tyrone are at the moment. We had beaten Tyrone twice last year. That’s just the difference a year makes.”

Monaghan have also had their problems and are expected to be without Gary McQuaid, Ronan McNally, Stephen Gollogly, Tommy O’Neill and Conor McManus this weekend through injury although McManus returned to light training on Tuesday night.

Despite those absentees, Brennan was anxious not to underestimate the threat from the Farney County as he plots a path back into the promotion race.

“Monaghan will be a massive test. Eamonn McEneaney has done a good job. They were relegated and didn’t have a good year last year so they have their own problems. Some players didn’t make themselves available but that’s their problem. They could have beaten Meath and Kildare so they’ve had two better performances than we’ve had and I respect all teams.

“We have to win homes matches and we should be able to if you want to win promotion. You then need to pick up points away from home. I wish I could say we are definitely going to go out and win but I just hope we up our performance and sustain it for 70 minutes.”