Wing-back Charlie Kielt back in Derry ranks

Charlie Kielt has returned to the Derry panel ahead of Sunday’s Ulster championship first round match against Tyrone.
Wing-back Charlie Kielt back in Derry ranks

The 29-year-old, who hasn’t played county football since 2014, is understood to have accepted manager Damian Barton’s invitation after several players opted out of the squad last month.

Goalkeeper Eoin McNicholl, Barry McGoldrick, and Benny Heron, who took up an offer to spend the summer in America, are gone along with some fringe players, but Barton has called up fresh faces, and recalled the experienced Kielt.

The wing-back played under Barton for his club Kilrea for the past two seasons.

Younger brother and fellow panellist James confirmed: “Yeah, Charlie is back at it again.”

“He was just with the club last year but he’s back in (with Derry) this last week or two.

“He had a good start to the club season and a few boys pulled out because we were carrying a very big panel, and some boys weren’t getting much football.

“It’s good to have him there and I’m enjoying my football a lot.

“I know Damian well because he took my own club (Kilrea) for the last two years. I knew how he worked and I always knew I was going to get on well with him.”

James Kielt, 27, walked away in frustration last summer when he failed to get game-time under previous manager Brian McIver.

He admits it’s “not ideal” that they’ve lost a few players again after this year’s league campaign, but insists morale hasn’t been dented by a few walkouts. A county spokesman yesterday confirmed they are carrying a panel of 41 into Sunday’s game at Celtic Park.

“We’ve still always had 25 or 30 training most nights so if we wanted to play an in-house match, we could,” said Kielt.

“It wasn’t ideal because you were training with lads all the way through November and December and you feel as if you’re getting team spirit built up and then some leave. That sort of thing always happens in Derry. When the club season starts, boys leave.

“You don’t blame them but it’s not ideal in a county setup to have boys stepping away, but so be it. We’re still confident heading into the game and preparation has gone well.”

Kielt is known for his ability to kick long-range points and with Derry expecting to face a well-organised Tyrone defensive wall in Celtic Park, that ability to bypass massed ranks could have a big influence. “It’s one of the stronger parts of my game, so who knows, it might make a difference.”

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