Brennan targets semi-final spot

Derry manager John Brennan. (1001PG32)
Derry manager John Brennan. (1001PG32)

DEERY manager John Brennan is targeting McKenna Cup qualification when his side travels to Ballybofey to take on Donegal tomorrow night. (Throw-in 7.30 p.m.)

Michael Wilson reports

The Lavey man was again pleased with the overall performance last weekend against Jordanstown but felt the game could have been over as a contest earlier had Derry taken their chances.

“I was very pleased with the performance. We made 10 changes from the Cavan game but we were still out to get a victory,” explained the Derry manager.

“We got the victory, so a reasonable performance on Wednesday night against Donegal will see us through to another semi-final and that’s what we set out for at the start of the campaign. That gives us an additional game.

“I thought the game could have been over at half-time. We were a bit lethargic. They’ll have to up it now because they’re playing for their positions but I’m just pleased with the players. It was a good result.

“UUJ have some very talented players, as they showed when given the opportunity and they punished us. We were disappointed with our nine wides to their one that we had in the first half.”

Brennan admitted it was a major boost to see both Paddy Bradley and Joe Diver back in action.

“Nearly all the panel have had game time. We used 20 players there tonight and 21, with the blood substitution, against Cavan. Almost everyone players have been covered, certainly all the fit players.

“The important thing there tonight was to get the injured players back on board. I was delighted to get Paddy Bradley and Joe Diver back.

““When you look at Joe (Diver) and Paddy (Bradley) coming back, they’re rusty but fair dues to those fellas, it’s great to have them out there.

“I have alluded to it before that Paddy needs to get out there. He was tackled a couple of times and he has to kick the ball over the bar. He did those couple of things So hopefully he can go on from that but we are all human. In time, and hopefully the next day, he will get more than 25 minutes. Maybe 35.

“The fella has come through hell. To know the personality of Paddy Bradley, he’s a confidence player and he wants to play. He wants to play county football. He wants to play for Derry and he got the opportunity there tonight. He will trouble a lot of defences this year, hopefully! “

The Derry manager also singled out Steelstown debutante Neil Forrester who didn’t look out of place in the senior line-up.

“And for the Derry City player playing out there in front of a Derry crowd, I was so proud. In the second half against the wind he did what I asked him to do and that was carry the ball. He has pace and he is so brave. I am so glad for Steelstown and for Neil.

“It is only our second game and we’re learning, but we have a lot to do. The result was good. That team went up and beat Donegal, so hopefully we can perform well against Donegal.”

One area Brennan said he wanted the players to concentrate on was winning secondary possession.

“While John McCamley is doing a job, there is another role around midfield that I refer to all the time and that’s secondary possession. They’re still not pleasing me in secondary possession. People should know roughly where the ball’s going to be from the break, but that’s an area that we’re going to have to work on.

“A time or two when we had the ball coming out of defence the half-back line were static. We did not break out of defence at pace.

“But look it’s only the second game. We have two victories and I’m happy. I’m glad for the players and I’m glad for the good turnout of supporters. It was great for a Saturday night. They were vociferous,” he added.