Derry will seek to bounce back from defeat to Galway on Sunday when they meet Laois in round 2 of the National Football League in Celtic Park, writes Seamus Donnelly.
Brian McIvor’s side fell to an opening day defeat away to Galway in Pearse Stadium, Salthill and the Oak Leaf boss will be hoping for an improved display on Sunday against a Laois side buoyed by victory against Armagh.
Radio Ulster pundit and former St Patrick’s Maghera supremo Adrian McGuckin believes that Laois will give Derry one of their hardest tests in this year’s league.
“Derry had a very difficult game in Galway last weekend and it will be a very difficult game this weekend.
“You will see an inexperienced Derry team against a seasoned Laois team. Derry had a much better display in the second half against Galway and they will need to play at that level if they are going to beat Laois,” said McGuckin.
“Traditionally Derry have not played very well against Laois and I think last year they got a bit of a beating.
“It is Derry’s first game at home and the young players that came into the team will be looking to put in a big performance for their home supporters.
“Laois had a very good win against Armagh last weekend and they will be very confident coming to Celtic Park.
“If Derry don’t win, then it is going to make the rest of the season very difficult but they probably have to play the two best teams in the Division in their first two games.
McGuckin was optimistic that the younger players that had come into the Derry squad could make a difference. He did however express some concern about the amount of football some of those younger player were playing.
In particular he singled out club man Ryan Bell as someone who had already played plenty of football this season.
“Sucky has really matured into a fine player. At the end of last season he was probably Ballinderry’s most consistent player and it’s good to see him playing for the county.
“He is playing senior football and under 21 football with Ballinderry and senior and under 21s with Derry so I’d just be a bit concerned given that he’s such a young player.”
McGuckin also stated his belief that two of his University of Ulster side, Chris McKaigue and Emmett McGuckin could make an impact on the Oak Leaf side this season.
“Both Emmett and Chris are fine footballers and they’ve got a big future ahead of them.