Faughanvale’s Jordan Curran will be the only notable addition to the Derry panel that travels to high flying Fermanagh this weekend seeking a second National League victory of the season.
Damian McErlain is not expected to make any major changes to the team that started last week’s victory over Offaly in Celtic Park, with Curran likely to take his place among the substitutes after missing last week due to a pre-arranged family break.
The Erne men currently sit second behind leaders Armagh in the Division Three table after a faultless start to their league campaign under Rory Gallagher. Impressive home victories against Wexford and Offaly were followed by an excellent away win in Markievicz Park, Sligo last week to make it six points from six and McErlain acknowledges his side face a huge challenge this weekend.
“Every week has been busy but Fermanagh are going well with three wins in a row,” explained the Derry manager.
“They are well organised under Rory and they will know us well. They know our players and, likewise, we know theirs.
“It will be a real battle in Brewster Park. It is a long pitch, quite narrow which keeps things tight. It will be a real challenge but we can look forward now a bit more with two points on the board last week.”
The sides met on a dramatic final day of the league season in Division Two last year when Carlus McWilliams grabbed a sensational late winning point for Derry only for Oak Leaf joy to turn to sorrow soon after when news of Jerome Johnston’s late, late equaliser for Down 223 miles away in Cork filtered through.
The result condemned both Derry and Fermanagh to relegation but the Erne county have bounced back in some style under Gallagher who brought in former Tyrone star Ryan McMenamin as his assistant.
Defeat for Derry this weekend would all but end any lingering hopes of a late promotion charge but similarly an Oak Leaf victory and suddenly - with leaders Armagh to follow next weekend - the table take on a very different scenario.
Seamus Quigley will be an obvious threat to Derry hopes, the big forward accounting for 0-3 of last week’s tally of 0-13 in Sligo but it was a tally matched by Declan McCusker.
Derry have placed an emphasis on defence in recent weeks but last week’s victory over bottom of the table Offaly saw a marked improvement in terms of achieving the balance between attacking and defending, something McErlain will be keen to see continue against better opposition this weekend.
“We have played Westmeath and Longford who were a very good sides, two of the better sides in this league, but we have to keep going,” added the Derry manager.
“The standard of opposition goes up again this weekend with table toppers Fermanagh and Armagh two weeks in a row.
“We have a small squad but the boys are working very hard. It is all very positive internally but it is good to get that win over Offaly. That will give the boys a boost.”
With Division Three leaders facing Offaly this weekend, Fermanagh will be under pressure to maintain the pressure at the top but if Derry can start as they did in Celtic Park last week it might just give them a foothold from which they could spring a surprise.