Derry City has always had a strong Scottish connection stretching all the way back to the Irish League days, and the latest signing means that two Scots are now on the Brandywell playing panel for the 2014 season. Jon Paul McGovern joins Mark Stewart amongst Roddy Collins’ close season signings and the Scottish midfielder is determined to make his mark on the League of Ireland.
The 33 year old has spent this season with non-League Celtic Nation, but has a wealth of experience in both the Scottish and English league, with well over 300 appearances to his name at the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon, Milton Keynes Dons and Carlisle United. The Scot was released by Carlisle at the end of the season and after moves to Kilmarnock and Bradford fell through, found himself without a club before signing for Celtic Nation in late December and turning out a number of times for the non-League side. This may have seemed a strange move for the well travelled player, but Nation are managed by former Celtic young team boss(and one time Derry managerial candidate) Willie McStay who managed McGovern during his time at the club.
However, having been alerted to his availability City boss Collins moved quickly to secure McGovern signature, with the midfielder arriving in the City during the week and following his medical, agreed terms with the Candystripes. However City fans shouldn’t expect to see McGovern in the starting eleven just quite yet, with both player and manager admitting that he is probably a few weeks away from full fitness.
The other half of the Scottish duo is Mark Stewart, who was one of Collins’ primary targets over the close season. Speaking to the Derry Journal this week, the forward spoke about how he has settled into life on Foyleside so far
“If I am being honest, I never really paid much attention to the League of Ireland before now. Playing in Europe was one of the main attractions to me”
“It has been a long pre-season but the boys are in good nick and we’ve had good preparations so we’re all ready to get going”
And whilst the the Journal’s Simon Collins tried to get a few personal goals from the man, he was remaining coy on his own targets for the season. “I’m just looking to play every week and if the goals come then I’ll be helping the team. I just want to stay fit and hopefully play every week”.
City fans who have been at the pre-season games saw Stewart’s predatory instincts against the likes of Coleraine and Finn Harps and will be hoping that he can continue this vein of form into the League season.
So can the Scots be part of the team that leads City to the 2014 title? It all gets under way on Sunday when Derry travel to Tallaght to take on Shamrock Rovers.