Ball in players’ court for Derry return says Harte

By Michael McMullan

WIN or lose on Sunday and the Glen county players’ return to action for Derry will be on their own terms, insists Mickey Harte.

The Wattys have a second chance to win a coveted first All-Ireland title when they take on St Brigid’s in Sunday’s Croke Park showdown.

Less than 24 hours earlier – just like the eve of last year’s All-Ireland final – Derry will be in McKenna Cup action, this time against Donegal.

Seven days later, Derry will begin their National League campaign against Kerry in Tralee before the visit of Tyrone to Celtic Park on Sunday, February 4.

“It depends on them, win or lose, it’s up to them to decide,” Harte said when asked when he expected the Glen contingent to make their return.

“If some of them feel like they’d like to be with us we’d be very welcoming to have them,” stated the Derry boss who will also retain Conor Glass as captain.

“If they decide that it is not for them just now and they need some time out, then we have to appreciate that as well.”

Glen had four players on the Derry panel last season with Ciaran McFaul returning to join Conleth McGuckian, Glass and Ethan Doherty on the panel.

It is also expected that Emmett Bradley will make a return with Eunan Mulholland also joining up after club duty.

Harte has used 26 players – including seven debuts – in the McKenna Cup so far with six players (Paudi McGrogan, Conor Doherty, Eoin McEvoy, Diarmuid Baker, Donncha Gilmore and Paul Cassidy) having played every minute.

All-Star defender Conor McCluskey missed the campaign due to injuries, while Padraig Cassidy – who has gone travelling

Others yet to feature are newcomer Marty Bradley of Ballinascreen who was part of the squad for the win over Armagh.

Oisin McWilliams, Lachlan Murray, Shea, Enda and Matthew Downey are also on the injury list.

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