Oak Leaf life of Brian

The Derry county board has pinned its faith in a Tyrone man as the race is on to revive the ailing Oak Leaf fortunes, the appointment of Brian McIver already receiving widespread welcome from players and supporters alike. And the Ballinderry man is determined to restore GAA pride to the county.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started in the job. I know it’s a daunting enough challenge, but I thrive on such things and I will give it my very best shot” assured McIver, who spent some time as Donegal manager and most recently as part of the Down backroom staff under James McCartan.

There’s always been a bit of debate about whether McIver is a Derry man or if he has his roots over the bridge in Tyrone, so let the man himself clarify the point.

“I’m a Tyrone man. My father was an Ardboe man and, while I played a wee bit of football for Ballinderry at youth level, I then went on to play for Ardboe” confirmed McIver, who was inspired to throw his hat in the ring in the quest to succeed John Brennan in the Oak Leaf hotseat through his involvement with the underage set-up.

“Helping my son Paul with Derry Minors last season whet my appetite to get back to management and I am delighted to have been appointed to this post, especially with the backroom staff I have assembled.

“Paddy Crozier has a tremendous knowledge of club football, not just in Derry but throughout the whole of Ulster and, being a former manager of the county team, he has a wealth of experience at top level also.

“I first encountered Paddy Tally’s expertise a number of years ago when we coached together with St.Marys and, of course, we worked closely as well alongside James McCartan in the Down management for a couple of years.”

Keen as he is to get started with what is generally perceived as a monumental task, McIver is taking a measured approach and showing total respect to the players and clubs alike.

“I want to give everyone a fair crack of the whip. But there’s no point in me rushing into anything at the moment because we want to give the clubs a chance to get all their business completed.

“We will wait until they have finished and then we will organise trials and invite players to participate in these.

“There’s no overnight quick-fix approach to a job like this. It will take time to get Derry football back to where it belongs to be, but I can see that happening alright.

“I am on record as saying that I believe it’s a challenge which will take anything from three to five years. But, just to make it quite clear, that does not mean that Derry are going to have to put up with me for that sort of length of time.

“It’s a work in progress and we shall see how we all get on because we are all in this together, whether it’s me of anybody else in charge” explained the focussed McIver, a man who is clearly on a mission with his ‘adopted’ county.