Regardless of the current trends in tactical play any really competitive Senior inter county team must have a tight marking defensive system, a ball winning/playmaking middle third and a forward line all of whom can score points or goals from play when the occasion demands it.One weak link in that sequence of three elements means the chances of victory are severely diminished.
Last year when we had a more competitive midfield sector and a relatively potent forward line we failed not because of the ability of our defenders as individuals but because we failed to play a proper defensive system which had been in place up to two years ago.However the main additional negative factor this year is the absence of so many key players. The following eight defenders-all of whom would be scheduled either to start or come on during the course of a game have not been available during the past five league matches ie Gareth McKinless,Oisin Duffy,Brendan Rogers,Karl McKaigue, Chris McKaigue,Sean Leo McGoldrick,Kevin Johnston and Liam McGoldrick.
From the midfield/ middle third sector the following six key panellists have been missing.ie Daniel Heavron,Ciaran McFaul,Emmett Bradley,Niall Holly,Christopher Bradley and latterly Mark
Lynch have not been available.
At least ten of the above would be almost certain starters if management were able to select their best Derry fifteen.
No county in Ireland, with the possible exception of the top four counties, could absorb that high rate of player haemorrhaging from their panel and not find themselves in a similar scenario to Derry at present.
Hopefully we will have the Slaughtneil three back for the two remaining games and maybe Mark Lynch,Danny Heavron and Ciaran McFaul will return for the last game. Their presence should at least make us more competitive as a side.It will then be the task of management and players to practise and then implement a proper defensive system of play for the Tyrone championship game.
Slaughtneil have a very good defensive system of play. Surely their three county defenders along with present county management can put in place a similar strategy for the county team.