Derry boss Brian McIver backs colleges in McKenna Cup row

Brian McIver says the university teams are being treated "very poorly" during the continuing county v college Dr McKenna Cup controversy.

In contrast to Tyrone boss Mickey Harte, Derry manager McIver says he has "absolutely no problem with lads playing for the universities".

McIver released his squad member Chrissy McKaigue to play for UUJ in Sunday's game against Antrim.

"The universities have got a very raw deal out of this thing," said McIver.

Speaking after Derry's McKenna Cup win over Fermanagh, McIver said that he was delighted to see as many members of his panel as possible getting game-time at this early stage of the season.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte unrepentant over McKenna Cup stance

"They are getting football today," McIver told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"If Chrissy McKaigue had been there today, I might not have been able to look at Oisin Duffy."

McIver also insists that the participation of the three university teams in recent seasons has breathed new life into the previously ailing competition.

"I remember being at McKenna Cup matches who you could have spoken to every individual supporter before half-time and got their life story.

"The universities came in and have left us the three groups. I would not like to see the universities being lost to this competition.

"I think they really have revived this competition."

When asked about whether Eoin Bradley could return to the Oak Leaf squad for the championship, McIver was careful not to close the door to the Glenullin man who has committed to Irish League soccer club Coleraine until early May.

"Any side is going to miss Eoin. Whatever comes with the championship, we'll talk about that at a later stage."

Despite his team's 1-11 to 2-4 defeat at Owenbeg, Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath was pleased with the application display by his players in freezing conditions.

"They never gave in and competed with Derry the whole way. It was a positive step forward for us today."

While McGrath says it's early days, the two-time Down All-Ireland-winning manager is confident that his team will be "competitive and will be able ruffle a few feathers this season".