GAA Football

Derry assistant boss Brian McGuckin had no fears flooding team with rookies

Ben McKinless from Ballinderry had a fine game in goal for Derry last Sunday  

DERRY’S assistant manager Brian McGuckin insists he had no fears over playing so many young players in the county’s opening Dr McKenna Cup tie against Armagh last weekend.

With manager Damian Barton on a family holiday in Australia, McGuckin was tasked with sideline duties and guided the Oak Leafers to a one-point win over the Orchard men with no fewer than 12 new players on show.

Ben McKinless of Ballinderry staked his claim for the number one jersey with a fine display on Sunday, while the full-back line and two-thirds of the half-back line were made up of rookies.

“There was no apprehension at all because the result wasn’t the be-all and end-all,” said McGuckin.

“They grew into the game well and did their job well. At no stage did we ever think that we had to put on the more experienced players because the only way these younger players can learn is to throw them in there.”

Enda Lynn, one of the few established names on the Derry panel, did come off the bench in the 46th minute to grab his side’s third goal, while Mark Lynch was thrown into the action for the last couple of minutes.

“Our aim today was to give a chance to the younger players and to give them good game experience at this level. The Armagh game was a fantastic learning curve for them."

The Tyrone man added: “We played Armagh in the O Fiaich Cup about five or six weeks ago and to be honest Armagh out-worked us that day, bottom line. Our aim was to match their work-rate, and we got that from them.”

Aidy McLaughlin, the oldest starter for Derry on Sunday at 27, had a storming game on his return to the county fold after several years away, bagging 1-1 in the first-half before going off injured in the 48th minute.

“We set our boys a target of conceding no more than 14 scores. So although we hadn’t scored in the first 20 minutes, we had only conceded two and we were happy enough with that," he said.

“What we didn’t have going forward was the support off the shoulder. The final 15 minutes of the first-half, we had that. We ended up kicking 1-5 in the last 15 minutes, so that was very pleasing coming in at half-time.”

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GAA Football