Brian McIver has come out in favour of the colleges in the row which has engulfed the Power NI McKenna Cup.
The new Derry boss has claimed the secondary provincial competition was “dead and buried” before the three university sides were included in 2004.
Queen’s University have already pulled out of next month’s tournament in protest at what it has described as “unfair” use of college players by some county teams.
While Jordanstown and St Mary’s will fulfil their fixtures, there are a lot of grumblings over some inter-county team managers’ insistence that players choose county over college.
McIver doesn’t agree with the stance being taken by some of his fellow team managers and insists: “I have absolutely no problem with the lads playing for their universities.
“Look, the McKenna Cup was dead and buried and in came the universities and suddenly it got a new lease of life.
“All of a sudden you are going to say, ‘let’s go back to the way it was?’
“I’m 100% behind the universities and have no problem with letting lads play for them.”
McIver has St Mary’s coach Paddy Tally, whom he worked with for two years in Down, as part of his backroom team in Derry next season.
The Oak Leafers will have Chrissy McKaigue and Emmett McGuckian lining out for UUJ next month, plus Emmett Bradley and Benny Herron for St Mary’s.
James Kielt and Kevin Johnston had been released to play for Queen’s, but may now be part of the Derry squad instead.
McIver said: “The McKenna Cup is great at this time of year for getting boys football.
“Those lads playing for universities are probably going to get at least three full games and all the lads that I want to get a look at, I will get a look at. If I am really concerned about any of them, I would just send down a selector to watch some of them on a night that we are playing.
“As I say, all I want out of the McKenna Cup is to get lads’ football and get everyone ready for the national league. That’s what it allows you to do.”
A second cruciate injury for the unlucky Paddy Bradley means he is not going to be a part of McIver’s squad. Whether that changes later in the season, McIver says will be up to the former All Star forward.
“All I can do is work with what I have and what is available to me and Paddy is going to be out for the greater percentage of this year,” he said. “If Paddy is playing outstanding football in the middle of the summer then obviously we would take a look at him.”
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