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McGuckin's Derry blood will be a head start in role with Barton - The Irish News
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GAA Football

McGuckin's Derry blood will be a head start in role with Barton

Brian McGuckin has been appointed as assistant to Derry manager Damian Barton (below)
Picture: Jim Dunne  
Francis Mooney

BRIAN McGUCKIN says his Derry roots will give him a passion for the role he has taken up as assistant to the county's new senior football manager Damian Barton.

The former Tyrone player comes from a famous Oak Leaf family steeped in the GAA. His father Mick, as well as several uncles and cousins, have played for Derry. McGuckin now lives in Ballinderry and is well versed in the Derry club football scene.

“I have roots in Derry, I’m living in Ballinderry and I didn’t have to think twice when Damian asked me to come on board,” he said.

“Obviously, I have a lot of connections to Tyrone football and I’m a keen Tyrone supporter, but I have Derry blood in me. My father has represented Derry, as have my uncles, my cousins, so I’m delighted to get this opportunity and I hope to do the best job I can.

“Derry is a very competitive county, club football is very competitive. I watch a lot of Derry club football and the standard is extremely high. With a bit of luck, we can follow that on to the county team and get a bit of success.”

Barton and McGuckin are teaching colleagues at St Patrick’s College in Dungannon and, for a decade and-a-half, their shared passion for Gaelic football has been thrashed out during conversations and debates in the staff-room, training pitch and car park.

“In a working capacity, I have been working with Damian now for over 15 years and we have built up a very close relationship. All of our conversations revolve around football,” he added.

McGuckin can’t wait to immerse himself in the job of working with a group of players he feels are capable of bringing success back to the county.

“It’s a fabulous challenge for me," he said. 

"I’m delighted that Damian has shown that confidence in me. It’s a massive undertaking, but I have no doubt that the players are there in Derry to challenge and my job is to try and prepare them as best I can. We all hope we’ll do a good job and we’ll get a bit of success in Derry football this year.”

And he is in no doubt that Barton will succeed in his stated aim of achieving buy-in from all involved in the game, including players, clubs and the county board: “No better man than Damian to do it," he said. 

"Damian is a fabulous communicator, he’s a real disciplinarian and he has a knack of getting a group of players and getting them to buy into a cause. I have no doubt that Damien will do a sterling job in that respect.”

Aged 37, McGuckin is still playing club football in Tyrone and finally got his hands on a championship medal last weekend after helping Edendork to the IFC title.

“I have been playing football for Edendork now for 30 years and never won a championship, so this is just absolutely fabulous," he said. 

"It’s fabulous for the club, it’s fabulous for the team and its fabulous for the local community. I have been playing for Edendork at senior level for over 20 years and haven’t experienced much success, so I’m just delighted to finish off with a championship medal.

"I’m more delighted for all the other boys. They have put in a huge effort from the start of the year and they have really got their just rewards”.

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