Favourite Paul McIver rules himself out of running for Derry manager job
PAUL McIver has ruled himself out of the running to be the next Derry manager.
The Ballinderry native had been viewed as the favourite to succeed Damian Barton, but has committed his immediate future to Down club Kilcoo instead and intends to remain with ‘the Magpies’ until they fulfil their dream of winning the Ulster Club Football Championship.
McIver raced to the top of the unofficial shortlist when the position became vacant following the Derry County Board’s decision not to extend Barton’s two-year reign last week.
The former Derry U21 and minor manager was briefly part of his dad Brian's senior backroom team before he left to guid Kilcoo to back-to-back championships in Down.
He would have completed a unique double had he followed in the footsteps of Brian (Derry manager from 2012 to 2015) and taken charge of the Oak Leaf senior side. He may still do that, but for the time being his future is in the Mourne county.
“I’m working with Kilcoo at the minute,” he said.
“We have a dream to fulfil and if it takes two or three years to do that I’m going to be remaining with Kilcoo for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a great honour to be linked with the Derry job but currently I have other ambitions and I want to fulfil them.
“I’m ruling myself out of it but sometime in the future you never know. Currently I’m working with an absolutely brilliant bunch of players and they have set their sights on being the best they can be and we want to fulfil that. Whatever period of time it takes to do that, I’ll be remaining with them on their journey. That’s where I’ll be staying.”
McIver’s decision strengthens the case for minor manager Damian McErlain’s promotion to the senior ranks while other candidates include U21 boss Fergal P McCusker, Loup’s Johnny McBride and Bellaghy’s Joe Cassidy.
Magherafelt native McErlain is currently preparing the Oak Leaf youngsters for an Ulster final against Cavan. It is Derry’s third final in his three years as manager, a reign which has so far yielded the 2015 provincial crown.
Meanwhile, the main event on Sunday will see three of McIver’s Kilcoo charges in action for Down, who take the field as rank underdogs against defending Ulster champions Tyrone.
Darragh O’Hanlon goes into the game as the Mournemen’s top scorer from half-back having bagged 1-9 in the wins over Armagh and Monaghan. In attack, the Johnston brothers, Ryan and Jerome, have provided pace and control and McIver doesn’t rule out a shock at St Tiernach’s Park.
“They’ve been exceptional club players over the last few years and it’s great to see them get to an Ulster final,” he said.
“Being involved with Kilcoo over the last number of years I’ve been able to see the talent in Down and I have to say it is absolutely frightening. There are players who aren’t even on the county panel who would make a lot of other county teams.
“It’s great to see them getting their rewards after the stick they were getting at the start of the year. They really have come together as a group of players and management and if they get going on Sunday they’ll be very, very hard to beat.
“If they stay in the game for the first 15-20 minutes and their belief starts to grow like it did against Monaghan there’s no in county in Ireland that gets that swagger, that belief, like them. They’ll be very hard to shift.”