Although Tyrone will play no part in this year’s Ulster Final, they will be represented not just by Cathal O’Hagan as minor referee but also by Omagh native Conal Sheridan who is coach to the Derry team. Conal was appointed coach following John Brennan’s election as manager. Conal has an extensive record of coaching and already this year has seen the Derry team defeat his native Tyrone in The Mc Kenna Cup final and follow that up with a fairly successful league campaign.They have won over 80% of their competitive matches this year and appear to thrive on adversity with much of their success achieved in spite of the absence of scoring ace Paddy Bradley. Following their comprehensive defeat of Armagh in the provincial semi final they were coming into the Ulster final in a positive frame of mind. All that appeared to have changed however with the news of Eoin Bradley’s knee injury and now few pundits give them much of a chance of winning their first Ulster title in years.
“Of course Eoin’s absence is a blow. He has been playing really well but it is a chance for someone else to step up to the plate and produce the goods. So we will see how it goes” said Conall when the news was confirmed that Bradley’s injury was as serious as first feared. When asked about how easy it was to work with the Derry lads the Omagh native had great praise for his charges.”They are a great bunch to work with. Enda Muldoon is a great influence around the panel and lads like Conleith Gilligan, the Mc Goldrick brothers and Mark Lynch are superb athletes and great competitors”. As Derry finalise their preparations Sheridan maintains the pressure is all on Donegal. “We are coming into this game without several key players so the pundits will all tip Donegal. That suits us because we believe if we get a real team performance from our lads we won’t be too far away”.
The secondary school teacher has worked with several county teams over the years and with many managers but reserves a special praise for Derry boss John Brennan. “He is a great man, a real down to earth, player’s man. When he talks people listen and when he challenges his players they usually respond. If they can do it on Sunday it will be seen as a great achievement for this team and although he will try to play it down, a great achievement for the manager too”.