ULSTER CHAMPIONSHIP: Donegal our biggest challenge, claims Derry boss McIver

  • Derry lose Daniel McKinless to injury as Gareth McKinless has ban over-turned
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  • Brian McIver admits Derry are “massive underdogs”

Brian McIver admits next week’s Ulster Championship semi-final against Donegal will be the biggest challenge of his Derry career.

The Oak Leafers go into next Saturday’s clash in Clones as rank outsiders against a team that has won three of the last four Ulster titles and which McIver believes are close to the peak of their powers.

“Looking at Donegal last Sunday, there were hardly any chinks in their armour in terms of weaknesses,” explained the Derry manager, “Yes, they got the perfect start but, significantly, they also started very well against Tyrone. The further the game went on, the more confident and the more assured Donegal became.

“It was one of those days, I presume, that nearly everything they set out to do went for them. The match was effectively over after 15 minutes and I would know Armagh’s preparations were meticulous and they had everything - as they would see it - well set up. Donegal were just superb. They ticked all the boxes.”

McIver believes too much can be read into Donegal’s famed defensive system claiming ‘good players make good systems’.

“Certainly we will be going in as rank underdogs and we’ll not object to that but come 7pm on Saturday, that counts for nothing. It is a mighty challenge for us and our lads know they are going to have to play really well. There’s no way round that, we are going to have to play out of our skin but I still go back to the last two games we played against Donegal. We got turned over - really turned over, in two 10 minute spells and if we can avoid that who knows.

Derry manager Brian McIver. (Picture: Jonathan Porter/Press Eye)

Derry manager Brian McIver. (Picture: Jonathan Porter/Press Eye)

“Last season in that 10 minute spell Donegal scored something like 1-03 which is a big, big turnaround in a very short space of time. The league game was exactly the same. If we can avoid that and make sure we are really up for it and in contention all the way through, remember, Derry have plenty of good footballers.

“Every one knows the players Donegal have but Derry have some very good footballers as well and this is the day to produce the goods.”