WITH promotion to Division One within his grasp, Brian McIver is understandably upbeat going into Sunday’s NFL top of the table clash against Westmeath at Celtic Park. (Throw-in 3.00 p.m.)
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Oak Leaf County boss prepares for the final Division Two game against the unbeaten ‘Lakesiders’ in the knowledge that a draw will suffice to secure top flight football in 2014 - a sharp contrast to last year’s scramble for survival during the closing stages of the league campaign.
Derry find themselves in the pleasant position of having their fate in their own hands and even a defeat would likely see McIver’s troops reach their goal.
Joint third placed Laois and Galway would need to secure victory against Wexford and Armagh respectively while overturning a heavy point scoring deficit on the Oak Leafers to actually upset McIver’s men.
Therefore, a relaxed McIver is delighted that his team is exactly where he wanted it to be going into the final league fixture against a team which has already secured their place at the top table next season.
Few would have envisaged this scenario following their opening day defeat to Galway and while he will obviously settle for a draw on Sunday afternoon, McIver is desperate for his side to complete the campaign and an impressive record in the league with another two points.
“At the start of the league, we said we wanted our fate, going into the last game in the competition, to be in our own hands” declared McIver.
“That’s exactly the way that things have turned out for us and, naturally, we’re very pleased that we don’t have to be relying on results from other games on Sunday to go in our favour and to be worrying about various permutations
“If we do succeed in getting promoted, it will be a very fine achievement by a young side which has made good progress over the last few months.”
Team captain, Mark Lynch, is once again ruled out with a broken hand and he is joined on the unavailable list by Dermot McBride and Carlos McWilliams.
McBride picked up an Abductor muscle strain in training ahead of the Louth game while McWilliams sustained a hamstring injury in a club game.
Meanwhile, with Westmeath’s place in the top flight already secured, manager Pat Flanagan is expected to make wholesale changes to the side that started the recent 0-17 to 0-16 promotion-clinching win over Armagh.