McNaughton one of the new faces in the Derry hurling panel

By Michael McMullan

FORMER Antrim player Christy McNaughton will be part of Derry manager Johnny McGarvey’s plans for 2024 after throwing his lot in with the Oakleaf County.

In his second season as manager, McGarvey has set his focus on promotion with an eye on the Christy Ring Cup later in the year.

Now living in Derry, but still playing for Cushendall, McNaughton qualifies to for  Derry. With the paperwork done and dusted, he will be available for selection.

“He qualified to play for us and we made a few enquiries,” McGarvey told Gaelic Life. “There are so many players in Derry who won’t play, so there is a lad who is keen to play so why would we not take him.”

McGarvey, who also has Conor Murray, Gareth O’Kane and Oisin Quinn in his management team again, has added further new faces to the squad.

Ruairí Ó Mianáin has made the step up from last year’s All-Ireland winning u-20 squad but captain Jack Cassidy has opted for football and made his debut against Cavan last week.

Cahal Murray, Dara Mooney and Darragh Cartin are further attacking additions, the latter making his return after a comeback from a knee injury.

Niall Farren, Oisin Duddy, Thomas Brady and Dominic Duggan have also joined up McGarvey’s squad.

It’s a case of eight in and five out from last year. Ronan Mullan and Daire Kelly will be in Australia; Eoghan Cassidy is working in England with James McCloskey and Cathal Quinn not part of the plans this season.

Derry begin the league at home to Tyrone as part of a football and hurling double header on Sunday, February 4 at Celtic Park.

The Oakleafers fielded an u-20 team in the Conor McGurk Cup, something the u-20 management were keen on when the senior management decided not to take part.

With the potential of Sleacht Néill, Ballinascreen and Swatragh getting out of Ulster and their players being unavailable, McGarvey opted to let the u-20s get action with the view of getting challenge games to prepare for the league.

“Promotion…nothing else matters,” the Derry boss said of their focus. “We want to win Division 2B and build a bit of momentum going into the Christy Ring.

“The first goal is to get promoted, then we will worry about the Christy Ring and we are a bit disappointed we didn’t win it last year.

“For the time being, we are setting our sights on getting promoted I feel we shouldn’t be where we are but it was (Division 2A last year) a good enough learning to see where you have to get to.”

Derry senior hurling panel: Aimon Duffin, Cahal Murray, Callum O’Kane, Christy McNaughton, Corey O’Reilly, Cormac Gough, Cormac O’Doherty, Dara Mooney, Darragh Cartin, Darragh McGilligan, Darragh Mullan, Dominic Duggan, Eamon Conway, Eoin Mulholland, Jack Shaw, James Friel, John Mullan, Mark Craig, Meehaul McGrath, Niall Farren, Oisin Duddy, Oisin O’Doherty, Paddy Kelly, Padhraig Nelis, Paul Cleary, Reece McSorley, Richie Mullan, Ruairí Ó Mianáin, Sean Cassidy, Sean Francis Quinn, Sean Kelly, Segdae Melaugh and Thomas Brady.

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