GAA Football

Revealed: This man is set to be named as the new Derry manager tonight

Derry minor manager Damian McErlain is expected to be ratified as the new senior supremo tonight. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Cahair O'Kane

DAMIAN McErlain is expected to be confirmed as the new Derry senior football manager at a county committee meeting tonight.

The Magherafelt man looks set to be recommended by a selection committee to take over from Damian Barton, whose two-year term wasn’t extended at the end of a disappointing tenure.

Clubs will be present at tonight’s meeting at Owenbeg, which will take place at 8pm, and are expected to ratify the recommendation.

McErlain is currently in the throes of preparing for an All-Ireland minor final, having guided the Oak Leafers to the September 17 decider against Kerry.

In what will be the last-ever minor decider before a change to the under-17 grade next year, it will be Derry’s first appearance at the final stage since the bitter 2007 defeat by Galway.

Their semi-final win over Dublin at the weekend was a further boost to his stock and a selection committee for ratification by the county committee has now chosen to put his name forward.

McErlain’s love of football came from acting as 11-year-old waterboy for the Newbridge team that won the Derry senior football Championship in 1989, on which his brothers Brian and John played in defence.

His own playing career is synonymous with Magherafelt having transferred there after his minor days, which saw him win an Ulster title and play in the 1995 All-Ireland final with Derry, and win two MacRorys and a Hogan Cup at St. Patrick’s Maghera.

With relegation looming for Magherafelt after a horror season in 2008, McErlain stepped into the breach as player-manager for the final five games and managed to keep them afloat.

He took the club’s minor team the following year and in his second season led them to the Ulster club decider, losing to Lámh Dhearg by a point.

McErlain went on to become involved with the county under-16 development squad before being appointed as county minor manager ahead of the 2015 season.

In all three seasons since, the Oak Leafers have reached the All-Ireland series – a particularly notable achievement given how sparse minor success had been for the county since ’07.

They reached three straight Ulster finals for the first time since 1968-70, winning two of them, beating Cavan in both deciders.

Former Tyrone under-21 boss Peter Doherty understood to have been the only other interviewee.

Candidates such as ex-Derry captain Johnny McBride withdrew from the process before the interview stage, while current Kilcoo boss and former Derry minor and under-21 chief Paul McIver wasn’t nominated despite speculation linking him to the job.

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