McKENNA CUP: Derry welcome back university players for Cavan test

Brendan Rogers, in action for Queen's against Antrim's Sean Burke, will come back into contention for Derry in this weekend's McKenna Cup semi-final aginst Cavan.
Brendan Rogers, in action for Queen's against Antrim's Sean Burke, will come back into contention for Derry in this weekend's McKenna Cup semi-final aginst Cavan.

Slaughtneil’s Brendan Rogers will come into contention for this Sunday’s Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final against Cavan, four days after trying to knock his native county out!

Rogers was part of the Queen’s University side that lost out by 0-17 to 2-08 at Celtic Park on Wednesday night after an encouraging display that pushed Derry to the final whistle.

I’ve heard good reports about Cavan. I was chatting to Cailean O’Boyle who played against them with Jordanstown and he was highly impressed with them.

Derry Assistant Manager Brian McGuckin

Alongside other university players like Cailean O’Boyle, Rogers is now available for the Oak Leaf county and assistant manager Brian McGuckin confirmed he will come into contention.

“Our aim at the start of the McKenna Cup was to qualify for the semi-final stages,” explained McGuckin, “We’re carrying a big squad at the minute – over 45 players. It’s an opportunity to get everybody game time.

“At this stage we have use of our university players so it will be an opportunity to get the likes of Brendan Rogers and our Jordanstown and St Mary’s men embedded into the squad prior to the National League.”

Cavan qualified top of Group C after defeating Armagh and UUJ and drawing with Monaghan and McGuckin is expecting a tough test this weekend.

“I’ve heard good reports about Cavan. I was chatting to Cailean O’Boyle who played against them with Jordanstown and he was highly impressed with them. He found them very physical and they played a very strong counter-attacking game. We’re certainly looking forward to that challenge and we’ll embrace it.”

After making 12 changes for Wednesday night final Group game, Derry will be expected to reshuffle things again against a defensively strong Cavan side but McGuckin is hoping the Oak Leafers can continue a scoring run that saw them average 21 points per game in the group - the highest of any side in the competition.

“Although we scored four goals at the weekend, we only scored six points and you know we made that very clear to the players before we went out that was something we wanted to rectify - so we’re pleased with the 17 scores.

“Obviously , we don’t have anything settled regarding our defensive personnel. We’re still working on different strategies as well so we wouldn’t be too annoyed about conceding the odd goal here and there. We’re learning a lot.”