Donegal star Durcan hails old boss McIver as one of best in the business
Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan has hailed Derry manager Brian McIver as "one of the best around" ahead of Sunday's Ulster championship clash between the sides in Celtic Park.
McIver had a stint as Donegal boss and offered a hint as to the potential in the county when he steered them to a first NFL Division 1 title in 2007.
Durcan was one of six players to feature in that success under McIver who went on to play in Donegal's 2012 All-Ireland final success.
And the Four Masters clubman isn't surprised at the progress the Oak Leaf men have made this season, saying the Ballinderry man is "top class."
"Derry club football is very strong and a lot of us have seen first hand how good a manager Brian McIver is," Durcan said. "We know he is top class. He is as good a manager as is out there and he is a gentleman too.
"He had a good back-room team with him (in Donegal). Ryan Porter, who is with Monaghan now, was a big help to him and he is a good trainer.
"Brian is a good man-manager and he shows a lot of respect for his players – and that's always a good thing."
Derry enter Sunday's game as slight favourites after their run to the Division 1 final, while Donegal disappointed when going down to Monaghan in the Division 2 decider.
Mark McHugh's decision to opt out of the panel, combined with Rory Kavanagh's absence and the question mark that hangs over Neil Gallagher's participation, mean Donegal have some significant obstacles to overcome this weekend.
But after a disappointing defence of Sam Maguire in 2013, Durcan is adamant that Donegal are much better positioned than they were 12 months ago.
"The championship is the main focus all the time, but at the same time when you are playing another Ulster team in a final you want to win it," Durcan said of the Division 2 final defeat to Monaghan.
"It was hard pill to swallow, but we have to move on. There are bigger fish to fry with the Ulster championship.
"We have a good pre-season under the belt now. Last year we lacked that and I think that is the secret.
"You can say you don't have to do the training, but I think you do to cope with what playing takes from players with club football and county. Everyone is coping all right.
"You can see with our pre-season, men are getting out of injuries a lot easier and I think that is a big part of it."