DERRY will be without three key players from last weekend’s victory over Monaghan when they travel to Newbridge this Sunday to take on Kildare in a crucial Division Two clash . Throw-in 2.30 pm.
Michael Wilson reports
Both Gerard O’Kane and Michael Bateson miss out through injury while Mark Lynch is due to be married tomorrow before heading off on honeymoon which will also rule him out of the games against Meath and Louth.
O’Kane hobbled away from training on Tuesday night before undergoing a scan on Wednesday morning to assess the extent of a knee injury while Bateson - who was in superb form until being helped off against Monaghan - injured the same shoulder which kept him sidelined for most of 2010 and is facing the possibility of having it ‘re-pinned.’
It is the same old story for John Brennan who admitted he is becoming frustrated at the lack of a settled panel to select from.
“We are looking at maybe having to make six changes from the Monaghan victory, but that seems to be the way our luck is going at the minute,” explained the Derry manager.
“For Gerard, we will have to wait to see what happens with the medical people but it is very unfortunate for Michael Bateson. He was playing very well, as were the other players at half-back. Last week was the first time we have managed to get that half-back-line out and almost immediately we’ve lost one of them.
“It is frustrating. I mean had Barry (McGoldrick) and Mark (Craig) stayed on the pitch against Galway I believe we would have went on to win the game but there is no point going over it again. You have to pick the best team available to you. As a county we only have so many players but everybody’s the same, so you get on with it.”
The Derry manager was loathe to once again reference the extensive injury list but in a league as tight as Division Two, it is easy to understand where he was coming from. Only two points separate second placed Meath from bottom side Westmeath but the Derry manager believes one man’s loss is another’s opportunity and he is hoping the new players he has introduced continue to step up.
“I said before the league started it would be a very good team that comes out of this division. When you look at some of the teams in there - Tyrone, Kildare and others - there are teams that should be in Division One and we have to accept that is what we are up against.
“If we could put this injury jinx behind us and move toward a settled team it would help but sometimes you have to give players a chance and hope they up their performance.
“It is a new level for some and it can take time to get use to it. I would have liked to introduce one or two players at a time, alongside more experienced players but we don’t have the likes of Kevin McCloy or Enda Muldoon in there any more.
“But I thought young Neil Forrester had a good game last week. He was very unfortunate with the two yellow cards he got. He is a bit of a livewire and we need that.”
Even before a ball had been kicked, the Derry manager had pinpointed Games Three and Four as the crucial fixtures and with one now safely navigated, he maintains they can define the Oak Leafers league season.
“Kildare is going to be a very tough game. I had thought that this would be a home match for us this year as we travelled to Newbridge last year but that’s not how it has worked out.
“The team is playing better and we’re going down there optimistic but both teams are coming off decent results.
“I have said before about the importance of the third and fourth games in this league. It is a very tight division and these games are the turning point in it. Unfortunately we weren’t the only ones to turn things around last week, Kildare and Westmeath also had good wins so they will be looking to build on those results but we are looking forward to the game,” he added.