Derry have full deck ahead of final step of title defence

By Michael McMullan

DERRY manager Rory Gallagher looks to have a full bill of health as the Oakleafers embark on the final step of their Ulster title defence against Armagh on Sunday.

Gallagher didn’t have access to u-20 trio Mark Doherty, Matthew Downey and Niall O’Donnell for their semi-final over the Farney men due to their involvement in the Ulster u-20 defeat to Down.

Oisin McWilliams, while not fully taking part in the warmup the last day, was named on the bench after his return from injury.

The Swatragh man’s troublesome shin injury transpired to be a fracture and he sat out action since his wonder point against Dublin at Celtic Park in early March.

It was McWilliams who had the ball in his hands when Seán Hurson blew for full time in last year’s final and has amassed 1-5 in the nine appearances this season, with the McKenna Cup final win over Tyrone his only start.

Lachlan Murray has been plagued by a troublesome hamstring injury but did see a token few minutes of time at the end of their win over Monaghan.

Skipper Conor Glass and last year’s winning captain Chrissy McKaigue have put their injury problems from the tail end of the league behind them.

Much of the debate in the Oakleaf County surrounds Ciaran McFaul and what his role will be on Sunday.

The Glen man, an ever-present in Gallagher’s first two seasons as Derry boss, made a return from Boston ahead of the championship.

McFaul replaced Niall Loughlin for his 83rd senior appearance in the 59th minute of their win over Monaghan and it’s likely he’ll be used in the same manner this weekend, specially when Armagh could’ve Stefan Campbell as a scoring option when the game is down for decision in the second half.

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