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Messages - Derry Optimist

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Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: May 31, 2020, 07:00:53 PM »
When one analyses the number of players that Derry have used at Senior County level ,in both League and Championship since 2016, as reported in the Derry Post, ie 82 as opposed to Donegal's 58 and Monaghan's 47 one could easily go down the road of excessive negative nuances against the Derry numbers.The fact of the matter is that the numbers are only one factor in a series of four reasons for the decline of Derry football.

Firstly, successful counties which Donegal and Monaghan were during this time do not need to select any great extra number of players for the simple reason that they are successful.

Secondly, Derry club Slaughtneil were very good at both County and Provincial levels  during this period.As a consequence up to seven of their players who would normally be on the County team were not available for many of Derry's League matches.Thus playing so many short of their starting 15 put Derry at a serious disadvantage and they were relegated in two successive seasons.

Thirdly,seeing no chance of any success with the county many of Derry's best players either refused to commit or when they were not selected on a starting 15 decided to opt out.Except for the top five or six counties this attitude is now unfortunately par for the course.

Fourthly, two of Derry's potentially most influential youngsters,Conor Glass and Callum Brown were snapped up the the Australian AFL where they now ply their trade.Incidentally Brown and another AFL emigre Anton Tohill were supposed to return to Australia yesterday from their Derry homes where they had been since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

So, whereas it is easy to blame bad managers for not having a good County team we can reaily see that this alone is a too simplistic explanation.It is true that previous managers have made wrong selection and man management decisions.A case in point is the current management's rather harsh treatment of Conor McAtamney.

According to the Derry Post analysis, Conor played more games for Derry than any other player since 2016.However, this year, in the first five games of the league, he only played a total of twenty minutes.Grant it Conor has a tendency to be too enthusiastic sometimes, then concedes possession and a yellow card is given against him.

Nevertheless, he is a great wholehearted player who covers a lot of ground with much hard running.I feel that a diplomatic word between Rory Gallagher and Conor would ensure his return to the squad.After all Derry are not blessed with a surfeit of of brilliant midfielders so we need all of our best players fully fit,totally committed and always available.

So whenever County football returns, we need our best players ready for action.Niall Holly,Conor McAtamney ,Patrick Kearney,the McWilliams  twins,Enda Lynn,Karl McKaigue,Paul McNeill,Kevin Johnston,Jack Doherty, Michael McEvoy and Jason Rocks should be there to join all the regulars.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: May 28, 2020, 05:51:29 PM »
The Irish Independent are running a feature series,every day this week,in which they select the Top 20 GAA players from each county,province and nationally for the last 50 years ie from 1970-2019. Yesterday they picked,in descending order,Derry's Top 20.Ability and length of service,in most cases, would appear to be the main criteria.They were also selected, regardless of which position that they played in.In other words,if they were considered good enough,two or more goalkeepers or five or six midfielders could be picked.

As in most such selections, there appears to be an over emphasis on picking the players who won the most trophies.Consequently, I feel, this was done at the expense of many outstanding players who gave countless years of dedicated service but did not win many major prizes.Grant it I understand why such stalwarts as Henry Diamond and Mickey Niblock were not chosen as they only played a few years of championship football at the beginning of the selected period in the early 1970's.The Top 20 Derry men picked were as follows:

1.Anthony Tohill
2.Tony Scullion.
3.Brian McGilligan
4.Enda Muldoon
5.Enda Gormley
6.Anthony McGurk
7.Sean Marty Lockhart
8.Henry Downey
9.Joe Brolly
10.Paddy Bradley
11.Kieran McKeever
12.Dermot McNicholl
13.Peter  Stevenson.
14.Sean O'Connell
15.Mickey Moran.
16.Damian Cassidy
17.Damian Barton
18.Gary Coleman
19.Damian McCusker
20.Johnny McGurk.

I believe that there are at least seven more players, if the research was done properly, who would be worthy of serious consideration for the above selection.

1.John Somers.John was a truly outstanding goalkeeper,played for Ulster and represented Derry for twelve consecutive years (1972-1983).

2.Mark Lynch.Mark literally carried Derry, almost alone  for many of the fifteen successive years (2004-2018) that he played.Often during that period he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

3.Gerry O'Loughlin was one of Derry's longest serving players.He played over three decades,turning in consistently masterful performances during his fifteen year tenure with the county(1968-1982).

4.Tom McGuinness. Bar Jim McKeever and Anthony Tohill  Tom was Derry's best midfielder to field and then run at defences. His fielding prowess was simply a mark of artistry.For twelve years (1968 -1979) he lorded the midfield exchanges for the county.

5.Joe Irwin.Another unheralded but highly effective player. For nine years Joe, who also played for Ulster, was the reliable defensive anchor at the heart of the Derry defence.(1981-1989).

6.Gerry McElhinney.The teenage prodigy who only played four years for the County (1975-1978) was one of the most gifted players ever to don a Derry jersey. He became one of the youngest players ever to be selected as an All Star.

7.Mickey Lynch, of the blistering pace,was Derry's star forward  for nine years (1975-1983).Who will ever forget his  Sports Star of the Week performance when he scored six points from play in the 1976 National League final against Dublin in Croke Park?

I do not wish in any way to detract from the outstanding ability of the above chosen twenty players.They were all magnificent servants of Derry football. Suffice to remind everybody that those additional seven (as well as others whom I may have inadvertently omitted) should never be forgotten for their fantastic contribution to Derry football.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: May 22, 2020, 10:10:58 PM »
 I would like again to commend the Derry GAA Communications Committee, spearheaded by an innovative County PRO, suitably aided by some other like - minded  souls, in their weekly cameos of  very talented sports people across the codes.

 I would hope that eventually they would put them all together in a montage of "We are Derry" excellence.Take this week's selection for instance.Bar Jim McKeever, there has never been  such a consistently high fielder of a ball with such a brilliant spring jump than this week's choice midfielder Tom McGuinness.

Yes, I have not forgotten the tremendous all round athleticism and skill of Anthony Tohill or the many mighty fetches in club football of Patsy Bradley, but Tom was simply in a class of his own when it came to spectacular and aesthetic fielding.

Similarly  the Committee's selection  and description of the telepathic  understanding between our greatest centre half forward, Mickey Niblock, and the intuitive play of that master of the sidestep, Eamonn Coleman, had to be seen to be believed.So to complete your superb combined cameo work I would like to see a montage of snapshots footage and catchy captions  of all your excellent work.

It would create a perfect benchmark for all those present Derry players who really want to prove that they, too,can reach the great heights  of the past masters.Over to you Committee.Let the players of today and tomorrow emulate our stars of yesterday.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: May 11, 2020, 07:00:51 PM »
 I have really enjoyed the recent contributions of many posters who have selected their favourite Derry sides  over many  past decades.Like everyone else I only pick players whom I have seen in the flesh.So I  must be older than some of my fellow selectors when they have not seen Sean O'Connell,Joe Irwin and Gerry O'Loughlin starring in a Derry jersey!

 Anyhow as we have no real prospect of any inter county action in the immediate future ( ie until social distancing is not a requirement  for contact team sports which according to some of the more pessimistic medical experts could be well into next year) I  will now  enter fantasy land and select my ideal  Derry team. The side   which I would like  to see take the field, whenever the green light is given to do so, is rather problematic for two obvious reasons.

Two of my  choices are still officially attached to Australian Rules but there is no harm in dreaming that they will don the red and white jersey one day. I have no doubt that they would add considerable substance to Derry's chances of really being more competitive at a higher level. I have not included Anton Tohill simply because I  have not seen him play at any level. However, there are two other players who have the definite ability to make a huge difference but apparently, despite the overtures of Rory Gallagher, they just do not want to commit themselves to play for the county. So I have ignored their claims for inclusion.

                                                  Odhran Lynch
Padraig McGrogan                        Brendan Rogers                Karl McKaigue

Ciaran McFaul                               Chrissy McKaigue             Niall Keenan
                                      Niall Holly                 Conor Glass
Emmett Bradley                            Callum Brown                  Padraig Cassidy
Shane  McGuigan                          Niall Loughlin                   Enda Lynn

Subs:T Mallon,L McGoldrick,M McEvoy,P McNeill,C McCluskey,S Downey,D Cassidy,C McAtamney,O McWilliams,C Bradley,B McCarron,C Doherty,Jack Doherty,B Heron,R Bell,J Rocks, L McWilliams.

If that side were available the future of Derry football  would be very bright indeed.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: May 05, 2020, 10:22:40 PM »
In reply to Oakleaf Gael Jim McKeever was definitely our best individual player of all time but he retired in 1963,seven years before our selection period began.Undoubtedly  other great players whom I forgot to mention like Mickey Niblock,Mickey Lynch  and Chrissy McKaigue  would have been included for serious consideration only for the one player per club rule.Any one who watched the recent showing of the Derry/Down classic of 1994 should see why Kieran McKeever is a "must" for corner back. He really was a class act in my humble opinion.I think that Gerry McElhinney was a Banagher player during his glorious years with the County!!

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: May 05, 2020, 01:44:43 PM »
Instead of reading  unfair negative publicity,from one quarter, about our native county I think that we should take up the excellent suggestion initiated by  that gem of an analyst  from  Ballinascreen, the redoubtable "Estimator."  He suggested at the beginning of April that we should select an All-time  Best Derry team  based on only being allowed to select one player from any club.

 It also must be acknowledged the great publicity by the superb Tony Scullion interview and by the magnificent cameo series by our County  PRO and Michael McMullan in the Derry Post.They are what good,fair journalism should be about, recalling the great players and magical moments in our GAA history. It should not be about  the insensitive opening of old wounds and adding more grief to people who at this time are undergoing much personal suffering.Anyhow the following is my best Derry Senior team based on Estimator's criteria  for the last 50 years 1970-2020.

                                                    Damian McCusker(Glen)
Kieran McKeever(Dungiven)            Brendan Rogers (Slaughtneil)         Tony Scullion(Ballinascreen)
Joe Irwin(Drumsurn)                      Henry Downey(Lavey)                Gerry O'Loughlin(Magherafelt)
                             Anthony Tohill(Swatragh)          Fergal Doherty(Bellaghy)
Sean O'Connell (Ballerin)                Damian Barton(Newbridge)      Sean Leo McGoldrick (Coleraine)
Paddy Bradley(Glenullin)                 Enda Muldoon (Ballinderry)      Mark Lynch(Banagher)
John Somers,Henry Diamond,Anthony McGurk,Peter Stevenson,Brian McGilligan, Gerry McElhinney,Sean Marty Lockhart, Enda Gormley and Joe Brolly are unlucky to lose out under the one player by club rule.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: March 04, 2020, 05:09:38 PM »
With Cork and Down almost certain to be promoted to Division Two of the National Football League and Fermanagh and Clare possible candidates to be relegated  to Division Three, what are the chances of the initial 2020 Tailteann Cup decider  being  a repeat of the 1947 League final between Clare and Derry?

Unfortunately league placings do not lie and until Derry produce tall, top quality and mobile midfielders   a Taillteann Cup success is the only realistic target for this year and maybe beyond.(Sadly our two potentially best midfielders, Conor Glass and Calum Brown, are playing in the AFL).

However, like Down who were decidedly unlucky not to be promoted last year, Derry can with a settled team make a more concerted and sustained effort for promotion next year.Lessons can surely be learned from the dropping of a valuable home point against Leitrim and the failing  to put  Down away  in the last ten minutes in this year's encounter in Newry.

In the meantime Derry's remaining two League games against Longford and Offaly should be played with championship intensity.This would be ideal preparation for the Ulster championship match against Armagh in Celtic Park in mid May. It would be a major boost if Enda Lynn,Michael McEvoy, Karl McKaigue,Niall Holly and Jack Doherty were fully fit by then.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: March 02, 2020, 05:05:00 PM »
Can anyone who was at the game between Cork and Derry  yesterday give an accurate report  of how the whole team played throughout the entire game?

Reading some of the media accounts one could deduce it was only over confident and careless play by Cork which allowed  a poor Derry side back into the game with some lucky goals against the run of play.

I was hoping that it was the determined,intelligent play of the Derry team as a whole which allowed them to dramatically narrow the deficit.

Perhaps some enlightened Derrry supporter who was at the game  could give a balanced view of how the team generally played and  if there was a huge gap in the quality of both teams.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: February 25, 2020, 07:54:50 PM »
One of the main problems that the Derry Senior County football squad has is the absence of tall,speedy,mobile and natural midfielders  within the panel.They do not have high fielding ball winners who know when to create an overlap,who can pass long,accurately and incisively  and  score freely.

Thus very good and versatile players like Chrissy McKaigue and Ciaran McFaul are overworked trying to play out of their normal and more natural positions.In other words they are the victims of their own versatility and their own phenomenal workrates.In addition the defence misses Chrissy's stability and leadership qualities and  likewise the forward line could do with Ciaran playing in a more advanced position.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, there are no buddung Jim McKeevers,Anthony Tohills,Fergal Dohertys or Enda Muldoons in the county.So, like at least 20 other counties in Ireland, Derry suffers in this regard when it comes to creating scoring opportunities for their forwards. In essence this is the real reason why Derry find it extremely difficult to score much more easily despite the fact that they often have much more possession but fail to put teams away as it were.

Rory Gallagher was very successful with a, admittedly, very good Donegal side but he also maximised the attainment of a much more limited Frmanagh side.We must live in hope that he will be able to successfully marry the younger talents of the skilful Niall Loughlin,Odhran Lynch,Padraic McGrogan,Conor McCluskey,Alex Doherty,Niall Keenan and Ben McCarron to the leadership qualities of the McKaigue brothers,Enda Lynn,Brendan Rogers and Ciaran McFaul.If he does so their combined performances will out weigh their individual talents and Derry will be a more viable Division Two side, if not this year, definitely next.It is very much a slow but progressive and incremental pathway back to the top table for this Derry side.If Gallager and his management team stick to this type of a concerted effort they will have done  Derry some service.Doire Abu.

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: February 06, 2020, 09:16:09 PM »
In yesterday's Irish News former top class GAA journalist,Paddy Heaney. was fulsome in his praise for new Derry football manager Rory Gallagher.He maintained that the future  of the Oak Leaf County could be very promising under his stewardship.

He said that in order to become great again all the County now needed was an inspirational player, like the legendary American Super Bowl  quarterback of yesteryear Joe Montana.Has anybody spotted a potential Joe Montana anywhere within the county?!

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: February 02, 2020, 07:56:19 PM »
Not having been able to attend either of Derry's two opening National Football League games, I must say that to describe the Leitrim result as a total disappointment would be the understatement of the year.However, would I be right in saying that there was a vast improvement in yesterday's encounter against Down and but for careless shooting and wrong decision making in front of goal that they could have actually won the game.

At least that is the impression I gleaned from reporters, Michael Wilson and Michael McMullan, who are both normally fairly accurate in their overall assessment of games.

Perhaps some of our fellow posters who were at the game yesterday could give an analysis of the team's general performance and a pen picture of each player's contribution.

Does any one know if Niall Loughlin and Niall Holly will soon be match fit as their inclusion would certainly be a great boost as would the inclusion of long term injured players such as Paul McNeill,Karl McKaigue, Jack Doherty,Michael McEvoy,Jason Rocks and Enda Lynn?

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: January 10, 2020, 06:37:02 PM »
The only meaningful information that  we can obtain from Donegal's easy victory over Derry, in the McKenna Cup on Wednesday night, is that Donegal have a much stronger all  round panel of reserve players than Derry have.It does not mean,however,that  many of the inexperienced players who played for Derry on Wednesday are not good enough to be starters on Derry's first fifteen in the near future.

 For new players to be tested properly no more than three should start a game together with the remaining twelve experienced players.

For any team to make real progress they must have three or four quality players who  are ball winners in the middle third ,can score and be equally good both defensively and offensively.Unfortunately we do not seem to have any budding Anthony Tohills  or Fergal Dohertys in the county.This makes the task of management and the team all the more difficult. Still with the exception of most Division One sides,  almost all other counties have the same problem.

Goalkeeper Odhran Lynch,C McCluskey,P McGrogan,S Downey,Conor Doherty,P Hagan,O McWilliams,D Cassidy  and Ben McCarron are all potentially very good inter county players at Senior level and if they are gradually introduced in the League,no more than three at a time, can make a real impact  for the positive development of Derry football.

As it would appear that Michael McEvoy,Jason Rocks,Paul McNeill,Enda Lynn and Benny Heron will not be available for the League, I would select the following for  the opening encounter with Leitrim.

T Mallon
P McGrogan
B Rogers
K McKaigue
L McGoldrick
C McKaigue
N Keenan
C McAtamney
N Holly
E Bradley
C McFaul
P Cassidy
S McGuigan
R Bell
N Loughlin
O Lynch
G McKinless
C Mc Cluskey
S Downey
Conor Doherty
O McWilliams
C Bradley
Jack Doherty
D Tallon
B McCarron
P Hagan

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: January 01, 2020, 07:56:30 PM »
 Finally and to keep everyone happy perhaps Wildweasel74 could list the names of all the tall,strong players who are NOT  available  and would be suitable for playing Senior County football for Derry and likewise Lenny could tell us the names of  all the tall,strong players who would make good County men and who ARE available but were not asked!!!

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: January 01, 2020, 03:05:32 PM »
Thanks Wildweasel74 for your customary accurate summary of Derry's best performers in the Monaghan McKenna  Cup game.

We must also congratulate Lavey in adding their names to the list of Derry  Ulster Minor club winners at St Pauls just over half an hour ago.By the way Wildweasel, other than Danny Heavron, who were the other capable, well built and tall players who have not made themselves available to the Derry Senior panel this year?

Derry / Re: Derry Club Football & Hurling
« on: December 30, 2019, 01:30:17 AM »
Were you Wildweasel or any other Derry supporter at Inniskeen for the Derry v Monaghan McKenna Cup game?I know Derry were missing about nine of their starting fifteen but I would be interested in their overall performance.Any of the new players impress?

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