DERRY GAA: New '˜City Ogs' set for U21 Club Championship debut
A new City based Gaelic Football team will compete for the first time in this season's Derry Under 21 Club Championship.
‘City Ogs’ are set to make their debut in Letterkenny next Wednesday night when they meet Letterkenny Gaels in a challenge match under the watchful eye of manager, Raymond Tracey, from Dungiven. It is the first of what Derry’s Director of Football, Brian McIver, hopes will be a series of fixtures designed to ready the new side for its Championship debut at the end of the summer.
The new team is an amalgamation of players from Doire Colmcille, Doire Trasna, Ardmore and Sean Dolan’s with a selector from each club working alongside Tracey in the management set-up. The players held their first official training session on Wednesday evening working under the watchful eye of Ballinderry’s Adrian McGuckin and are set to benefit from further coaching from some of the county’s top coaches.
“Along with County Chairman, Brian Smith, and Patsy Mullan, I met with various representatives from the city clubs and looked at ways at which we could help improve the prestige and image of Gaelic football within the city,” explained McIver.
“Derry City is a great city of culture and sport with plenty of GAA talent and if we can get a strong Gaelic football identity for the city, there is no reason why that talent can’t come through. We discussed various ways in which we could improve that identity and one of the ideas was to put a city side into this year’s Under 21 Club Championship.
“Steelstown felt they had enough numbers and could run independent but the other four clubs all agreed to the concept and each has put forward a selector. We had 22 players at the first training session and there were a number of lads injured or unavailable, so I was very pleased with the turn-out.”
Paddy McNaught (Doire Trasna), Robbie Doherty (Doire Colmcille), Mark McCusker (Dolan’s) and William McLaughlin (Ardmore) are the selectors and McIver believes every club can benefit from having players involved in the new set-up.
“A couple of the clubs tried the Championship last year and for one reason or another, it did not materialise how they would have liked so we decided to let the four clubs have a shot at it. Our job is to provide them with coaching, it is as simple as that.
“We want to get some of the best coaches in Derry into the city and working with these lads to progress. When the players see the progress it breeds belief and confidence and helps give them that sense of identity.
“Adrian McGuckin ran a very good session on Wednesday and there are a number of other coaches who will come in and work with the players over the next few months. All being well we will get them their first game next Wednesday to see how they are shaping up.”
The former Derry senior manager said the new team had been approved at county level and was part of an overall effort to tap into the potential of the City.
“This was proposed and run past the county committee. We were very careful to ensure this wasn’t stepping on anybody’s toes. We talked to county U21 manager, Fergal P McCusker, in relation to what we are trying to do.
“It got approval at County Board level and everything has been sanctioned. If we can get a step in the right direction with these players it will be a worthwhile effort.
“The clubs are putting forward the players and the selection will come down to the four selectors along with Raymond Tracey.
“If we can get a group of young lads coming through at that age and showing that they can compete at the highest level in the county, it will be an incentive for the other players and clubs but I have to say, there is already lot of very good coaching going on in the city. I have been very impressed by that.
“Last week I was up at the Tower Cup in Celtic Park and there were 20 teams, 16 primary schools represented, some with two teams and, again, you had upwards of 200 kids playing. The more that we can do that the better it will get.
“Even on Wednesday, I arrived early at Doire Colmcille and they had 60 kids out from their nursery through to their U14s with plenty of coaches and everyone working really hard. All these steps are taking the city in the right direction.
“If these City Ogs lads can work together and show they are capable of competing with anyone, it will be a big step in the right direction in terms of giving players within the city that belief that they can compete with anybody.
“Everybody knows Derry City is the area with the biggest population in the county and if we can get enough youth coming through and initiatives like this take off, the city could really push ahead over the next 10 or 12 years.
“For our part, all we can do is give these lads with best coaching possible and hope with that they progress but I have no doubt, with the calibre of coaches we are bringing in, that progress will happen.”