Brennan ready for ‘biggest challenge’

DERRY manager, John Brennan, claims Sunday’S Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final against Armagh will be the biggest match he has ever been involved in.

Michael Wilson reports

And coming from a man who landed SEVEN Senior Championship titles in THREE separate counties with FIVE different clubs over an illustrious career, it is an indication of the Lavey man’s desire and determination to lead the Oak Leaf County to their first final in 11 years.

“I think I have been affected by this game more than any other I have been involved in, because of what it means to the county. We want to bring some success back and to shut up the critics,” revealed Brennan.

“We want to put recent history to bed and there is no doubt Derry need to win this game more than Armagh. I was never in a hurry to manage Derry but now that I’m doing the job, I am enjoying it. This is probably the biggest game I’ve ever been involved in but not because it’s an Ulster semi-final, because of the county’s past failings - that’s why this is such a huge game.

“Derry’s past means this is a real pressure game but we all know that. We are the latest to try and improve on the recent record and we’ll be well prepared and know exactly what’s ahead of us. Armagh are an excellent side but we will be ready.”

As expected, the injured Gerard O’Kane has not been named in Brennan’s starting 15 which was announced at a Club Derry function last night. Brian Og McAlary comes in for the Glenullin half-back while the only other change from the starting line-up that easily disposed of Fermanagh in the quarter-final, is the return of captain, Barry McGoldrick, which could see Charlie Kielt shift to wing-back and Sean Leo McGoldrick restored to the half-forwards.

Enda Muldoon is again likely to operate in the play-making role which could see him help out Joe Diver and Michael Friel in the middle third and the Derry manager is only too aware of what a stumbling block Ulster semi-finals have been in recent years.

“There’s no doubt that psychologically the Ulster semi-final seems to have been the real problem for the county and it is an obstacle we have to get over. The county and the supporters deserve much better than what we have got recently but it is not about what you deserve, it is about what you earn and we have to earn a place in the final.

“The players are up for it and we have a good panel of players who know what is in front of them. Armagh will go in as favourites after defeating Down, but that does not worry me. We need to concentrate on ourselves.”