Following their tremendous performance in the recent draw with Wicklow, their nemesis of 2011, Derry will surely target a victory when Westmeath arrive at Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon.
Derry manager, Ger Rogan (pictured right) has been delighted with the pre-season response from his new and youthful squad and despite recent injury set-backs, the Antrim man believes his squad can cope without several key players for Sunday’s clash.
Derry will be without last year’s captain, Kevin Hinphey, who is recovering from injury, and Mark Craig who is on the Derry football panel, but the Derry manager stated with the influx of new players Derry can, “cope with the absence of several players.”
“Even though the average of the squad is 22 or 23 I am very excited about this group of players who are young and learning their trade,” said Rogan.
“I have great belief in this group of players,” he added. “As individuals and as a collective I just want them to give of their best and so far the response has been massive.”
The youthful Oisin Doherty has been a prolific scorer for Slaughtneil and Derry at underage level, and has played at senior level for the Oak Leafers but he will be between the posts against Westmeath.
Banagher’s trio of McCloskey brothers will play in pivotal positions, Oisin and Darragh at midfield, Ruairi at full back, while Banagher teenager Shane Farren will hope to showcase again his prolific scoring talent at corner forward, as he did against Wicklow.
The experience of players like Liam Hinphey, Aaron McCloskey, Paddy McCloskey, Ruairi Convery and the Na Magha duo Alan Grant and Leigh Hawkins, will be crucial in what will surely be another testing 70 minutes.