We have to stand up and be counted - McGee
Neil McGee is in his seventh Ulster championship campaign and in the six years since he made his championship bow, he has blossomed from a fiery corner back into one of the best number threes in the game.
And he has the All-Star statuette from last season to prove it. In his championship career to date he has locked horns with the Oak Leaf’s Paddy Bradley - recognised as one of the best forwards in the modern game - on a couple of occasions and he is more than likely going to be assigned to marking duties on Bradley s again on Saturday evening.
Like all heavyweight battles, there comes a decider and Saturday evening’s encounter could very well be the one. So far it is one each. Four years ago in Ballybofey, also in the quarter-final ,Bradley had a field day as Derry emerged 1-14 to 1-12 winners at the end of a cracking contest.
But two years later in a third round Qualifier also by the Finn, McGee came out on top and Bradley was restricted to two points as Donegal shaded a high octane encounter by a single point, 2-13 to 0-18 after extra-time.
“The last time we played in the Ulster Championship in Ballybofey, Paddy (Bradley) scored ten points off me and while I know a good few of them were from frees, it is not something any defender likes to his name. I receive constant reminders about it and it is most definitely something I won’t want to happen on Saturday evening,” insisted Neil.
“I’m not sure which of them I’ll be picking up yet, but I suppose I will be marking one of them but we won’t probably know until Saturday evening, but one thing’s for sure I most definitely hope that whichever of them it is that he will not score ten points off me.”
And what of Derry and the challenge they will pose?
“Derry have top class forwards. They have four or five forwards that would get on any team; not only have the two Bradleys, but they also have Conleth Gilligan and Mark Lynch and they have Joe Diver in midfield. They are a good team and we are going to have to be on our game and play well and step up from the Cavan game if we are to beat them.
“We are going to have to work very hard and put in a huge effort and hope everything goes right for us on the day. And we will need to get the wee breaks that you normally get in a championship game to win.
“They are going to be up for it big time and we are going to have to match them. The word coming out of Derry after last year’s Ulster finals was that if the Bradleys were playing, they would have beaten us. Indeed I heard some people say if one of them was playing they would have beaten us. They are both back now and they will be all out to set the record straight so we’ll see how that pans out on Saturday evening.
“We’ve done a good bit work over the last two weeks. The training camp went well. It was good to get everyone together and we got a lot of things done and worked on a lot of things in preparation for Saturday’s game. It was very positive and everybody benefited from the few days together. We are all in good shape and looking forward to the game and the challenge.
“Looking back on the Cavan game, we did a lot of good things but we also made mistakes too and it is matter of correcting the mistakes and building on the positives from that game for Derry.
“Derry are a better team than Cavan and are going to be a step up again and we are going to have to improve a good bit from the way we played against Cavan.
“With the exception of Michael Murphy and Rory Kavanagh, everybody else is fit and well. The game might come a bit too early for Micheal and Rory, but hopefully we will get over Derry and they will be back for the Ulster semi-final.
“The boys are a loss and we could do with having them but we have known well in advance that there is a doubt about them and that they might not be playing and we are just going to have to get on with it. And whoever comes in to replace them at full-foreward and midfield, they are going to have to step up to the plate.
“Colm (McFadden) and Patrick (McBrearty) have been playing well this past while and that is a bonus too and a big plus that they have stepped it up. The word was going around during the league that we were a one man team but I think we put that to bed against Armagh in the league and the last day against Cavan.
“It will be probably a boost to Derry all right that they are not playing. Rory has been playing well and is every bit as big a loss as Michael, but if they don’t make it, the rest of us are going to stand up and be counted,” said McGee.
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Weather for Dromore
Wednesday 22 May 2013
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