The Irish Mail on Sunday
Set eyes on hotshot Michael Murphy
will have done any psychological damage going into this do-or-die Ulster Championship match, particularly after a spring campaign in which they came from seven points down to draw with Tyrone, turned over Kerry in Killarney and Dublin in Celtic Park.
‘You would hope not. If you go back over the records, Dublin got turned over on a few occasions, 2008, 2009, and came back stronger than ever. They learned from it.
‘We could have sat at home and watched Chelsea versus Liverpool and learned nothing. But we went to Croke Park, faced the best at the minute and learned a lot. I would like to think that the things we learned we’d be able to implement now in the Championship.’
His hands have same sort of Midas touch as Jose Mourinho with the teams he has coached but he’s unsure as to whether Derry would have been better off imitating ‘the negative one’ (as the Chelsea manager was mocked in the Premier League title run-in), and parked the bus.
‘It’s food for thought. The pace at which Dublin play and the space at Croke Park – I’d imagine that two buses wouldn’t be enough!
‘Against Dublin, for nine of the starting 15, it was the first time they’d ever ran out from under the Hogan Stand. Some of them had played as minors but they’re over the Cusack Stand.
‘We made mistakes that we hadn’t made before. Once we settled down, for a spell in the second half we played good football. And then Bernard Brogan hits an absolute thunderbolt and the game is over.
‘As soon as we were on the bus home we started planning ahead. There is no point in football in feeling sorry for yourselves.’
In the ground early, the squad watched the first half of the Division 2 decider and Donegal’s lacklustre showing and defeat by Monaghan hardly escaped his notice.
‘It’s very difficult to read a lot into it. Donegal had been away for a week, done tough training. They had achieved what they wanted to do in promotion and getting back to Division 1. They will be formidable opposition for us.’
His son Paul is part of the Derry management team this year and it’s a testament to McIver that his passion for the game hasn’t dimmed with the decades.
The times change and he has changed with them, all the while remaining true to himself and refreshingly free from ego or hubris. In that much, he is the antiMourinho.
Whatever happens at Celtic Park this afternoon, football owes a debt to Brian McIver.