Sunday 18 August 2019

Derry on hunt for new senior football boss after McErlain steps down

Derry manager Damian McErlain has led his side back to Division Three. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Derry manager Damian McErlain has led his side back to Division Three. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Derry GAA chiefs were forced to "reluctantly accept" Damian McErlain's resignation as senior football boss after he stepped down citing "personal circumstances" despite still having one year to serve at the helm.

His departure after two years in charge comes as a surprise for the Oak Leafers having helped them to promotion this year with Division 4 success secured in Croke Park.

McErlain was appointed on a three-year deal having led Derry's minors to the 2017 All-Ireland final and he expressed disappointment that he wouldn't be completing his term.

"The rationale is very much based on personal circumstances and it's with disappointment that I won't be finishing my three-year term. After five years in total in Owenbeg, it's been a big shift with some great memories and challenges in equal measure," McErlain said.

"But I now have to focus on prioritising myself and my family. Derry made good progress in 2019 after a difficult 2018 and it's vital now that the players capitalise on this and demonstrate the sort of persistence that will be required to reach the levels needed.

Animal "Underage football in Derry has been strong these last number of years but senior inter-county is a different animal and again these players coming through have to have the desire to persist in developing themselves and their game over a number of years if they want to succeed in driving Derry onwards."

A Round 2 qualifier defeat to Laois was his last game in charge and suitable replacements look thin on the ground, although former Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke is likely to be linked with the role.

Meanwhile, James Horan looks set to be without influential defender Paddy Durcan for Mayo's crucial Super 8s tie with Meath on Sunday as he recovers from a quad injury.

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Stand-in captain Durcan was forced to sit out last weekend's demoralising defeat to Kerry having picked up a knock in training but he should return for their final-round clash against Donegal on August 3.

Elsewhere, Davy Fitzgerald has been boosted by the returns of Damien Reck and James Breen as Leinster SHC champions Wexford prepare for their All-Ireland semi-final with Tipperary on Sunday week.

Aidan Nolan is also available for selection after he had a two-game suspension overturned and the Model men ramped up preparations with a training camp last weekend.

While Tipp were defeating Laois, Fitzgerald was putting his Wexford charges through their paces in Clare as they look to book a first All-Ireland final appearance since 1996, the last time they won the title.

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