By Michael McMullan
THE volume of games in the Derry club scene demands a deep squad insists Richard Thornton who is happy with what Magherafelt have under the bonnet.
The All-Ireland winning coach with Kilcoo joined Damian Barton’s management team this season was speaking after one of the newcomers, Ryan Lennox, fisted Rossa to victory over Sleacht Neill.
Conor Kearns, Emmett McGuckin and Michael and Eoin McEvoy were among those missing for Rossa but Thornton takes it as it comes.
“The way it has been in Derry with 13 games week after week, it has been a tough enough league,” he said.
“Then the county boys come back and you are into a six-round setup for the group stages of the championship, so the bodies are on the line.”
Sunday’s win was built on an unanswered 1-7 tally in the middle of the second half and it added to victory over Loup in the first game.
This weekend is a hurling weekend in Derry with Magherafelt now having two weeks until their visit to Shamrock Park to face Ballinderry.
“For me, personally, the thing I have noticed since I came in at the start of the year was the quality,” Thornton.
“There are a lot of good players here in Magherafelt across our squad between reserves and seniors.
“What has happened this year over the league was a lot of young lads got blooded. They got senior time and you are trying to build the number of players on the bench that are capable of coming on.”
Flipping the injury list on its head, Thornton feels Magherafelt bringing their rehabbing players back will strengthen the squad.
“There have been lads who stepped in against Loup and today against Sleacht Néill who are more than capable.
“When you have a few boys off and away doing rehab, it gives those boys a chance to get experience on the pitch.
“That’s how senior players are born. You get a few games under your belt and all of a sudden you are a senior player,” Thornton added, saying also that introducing younger players is an important part of management.
“Your first two home games, you want to try and get two points to set you up,” he added. “It then gives you a bit of structure going forward so you can control your own destiny.”
Magherafelt have a top spot finish in their own hands and Thornton is targeting the latter stages of the group stages to get the Rossa band fully together.
“You try and get as much as you can, to get them doing what they need to be doing,” he concluded. “Hopefully once you get through the protocol, they can come back and build a few minutes and hopefully build towards the third, fourth or fifth game.”