By Michael McMullan
DERRY Masters manager Ronan Rocks insists the county will maintain its interest in the competition after their All-Ireland final with London later this month.
The Oakleaf County made the return for the first time in the late 2000s this year and victory over Cork shot them into the intermediate decider against the exiles on Saturday, Septmeber 23.
Kerry knocked Derry out of the senior competition and the Kingdom now play champions Tyrone in this year’s decider.
Speaking on this week’s GaelicLives podcast, Rocks spoke of the journey to getting Masters football up and running again in Derry.
“It has to stay,” insists the former Oakleaf forward who manages the side with his right-hand man James McGrath.
“At the very beginning, it was an open book,” Rocks said. Within a session or two, the players were asking how seriously it would be taken.
Derry adopted the play hard but enjoy the craic approach that has left the team a talking point within the county.
“It’s simple for me, I am here for the craic,” Rocks said. “But, irrespective if you are 10 years of age or you are 60 years of age, you don’t lose that competitive edge.”
Derry’s team includes former stars Paddy Bradley, Gavin Diamond, Paul Cartin, Brian Scullion, Paul McFlynn and vice captain Kevin McGuckin.
Captain Jimmy O’Connor is still a driving force behind Glack’s bid for another junior title in Derry.
The squad is made up of players from across the county with BBC commentator Thomas Niblock swapping his microphone for a pair of boots.
“For that hour, it is as competitive as you’ll see, the standard of football is excellent and boys look after themselves,” Rocks added.
“If you go and watch junior or reserve football, there are lads at 40 plus years of age going up and down that field
“Quite a few years ago, it was a laughable thing with boys going around with bellies, but if you go and watch the Masters, there are not many boys out of shape.
“Boys you played against about 20 odd years ago, they still have the same style of kicking the ball, the same turn, the same tackle…that’s all still there.
“The pace isn’t there, but what I love about it…it’s total football.”
Check out this week’s GaelicLives podcast for the full interview with Ronan Rocks