A link between all three Derry goalscorers on Sunday was their presence on the Derry Minor Panel at the start of the 2012 campaign. During that season their time together was parked – until Sunday past. All three took different paths to reach their current status in the Derry senior team.
In that minor team the season ended differently for the trio. Ryan Bell was joint captain as they lost the Ulster Semi Final heavily to Tyrone. Liam McGoldrick was watching from the stands having not made the match day panel and Shane Heavron wasn’t even in contention after being cut from the squad after the league.
All three were in their final year at minor grade but then everyone develops differently and for others they maybe get a break at the right time. Tony Scullion and Kevin McCloy are two of the best defenders ever to play for Derry, neither played for the county minors.
After a self-imposed exile last season Ryan Bell is back in the fold under Damian Barton and is looking as lean as he was in his younger days. That young Liam McGoldrick has now developed into a devastating attacking half back with legs, power and speed. From the famous Portstewart clan the younger McGoldrick obviously took to the strength and conditioning. When you see the way Eoghan Rua play football he is certainly in good company.
Heavron (Pictured) has arrived on the scene via different route. Just off the plane from a summer in America an unerring and at times breath-taking display of point taking almost derailed Slaughtneil's championship aspirations last season. Heavron had finally arrived on the scene. People leaving Owenbeg certainly knew who he was. Damian Barton would surely have him earmarked for this season.
"I was dropped from the minors and then didn't go to the Under 21s and to be honest I didn't think I was good enough. I went to America last year so it was never an issue then but this year I thought I would give it a push," outlined Heavron.
"I am really looking forward to playing with the county. Personally it is a good achievement when you consider last year I wasn't with the under 21s or anything like that. It was great to get the call up. With Damian [Barton] coming in, it was a different chance to get a go at it and the fact we have so many from our club here, that helped. It is a young team and all the squad do make you feel welcome so I am glad I came up but it is very early days yet."
He is in good company in the Derry camp where is joined but five other Magherafelt men including his brother Danny. "It is some difference [from club football] even in terms of commitment and it is a lot different from what I am used to. There are six players on the panel from my own club though so that makes it easier to settle in."
His tally of 2-1 saw him pick up man of the match but he was shocked and almost embarrassed to have picked up the award. "I can't complain with that début but I have to thank Emmet [McGuckin] who set me up for both the goals though no doubt I will hear about it from him. For the first one it just dropped to me and I saw the keeper coming out. I thought about chipping him but thought better of it and thankfully I managed to hit the net with it."
Enda Lynn picked up man of the match following an impressive debut performance against Armagh many moons ago. If Heavron can follow the Greenlough man’s path to being a
mainstay in the Derry team he will be more than happy. Closer to home he needs to look no further than his older brother Danny. Time will tell but for now he has his foot in the door.
With the kitbag over his shoulder and proudly wearing a Magherafelt tracksuit the 22 year old UUJ student headed down the tunnel. He had a pep in his step and satisfied with this day's work. He knows there are bigger challenges ahead though.
"At the minute it is all about fitness, getting the fitness levels up. We are looking further down the line in terms of results but it is always nice to start with a win. It will be a different game against Tyrone. We played them in the O’Fiaich Cup two or three weeks ago and it was very competitive. They were very fast and very strong so we will have to be prepared for that."