The new season is almost upon us and Friday Night Football at the Brandywell is set to make a return.
Newly promoted UCD travel to Foyleside to face a much changed Derry City outfit with a returning manager at the helm. Creggan man Declan Devine is back in charge of the Candystripes having previously managed the club between 2012 and 2013.
Devine won the FAI Cup in his first season defeating St.Patrick’s Athletic 3-2 at the Aviva Stadium before losing the Setanta Cup Final in a penalty shootout against Crusaders at the Oval.
The former City player was reappointed manager in November succeeding Kenny Shiels who’s eighth place finish in a ten team division and an EA Sports Cup triumph wasn’t enough to keep his job.
City’s eighth-place finish was in direct correlation with their plummeting home form losing seven games in seven to close out last season and Devine is hellbent on making the Brandywell an intimidating venue for visiting teams:
“We are people who have to fight and that’s the Derry mentality. We’re not going to be intimidated in our own backyard anymore.”
Home form will no doubt be paramount to a successful season on Foyleside.
A Community Club
The new City boss wishes to reconnect with the Derry people and bring back a sense of identity:
“This club means a lot to the people of this city and we’re in a privileged position of representing them.”
Ahead of the forthcoming season the team went on a walking tour of The Derry Walls to give players a feel for the City and its remarkable history:
“We have to get back to what the people of this community have had to do all their lives and that’s fight for everything.”
Overseeing a Change
Devine was faced with stitching together a whole new squad after last season saw the team stretched to its seams. With just four players on the books a raft of new faces have been brought in to form a team capable of challenging in the right half of the table. Derry shipped 70 goals in 36 games last term and with the loss of goalkeeper and captain Gerard Doherty, Devine has been forced to rebuild from the back.
Goalkeeper Peter Cherrie arrives having previously won a league title with Dundalk while Patrick McClean returns from Sligo Rovers and Ciaran Coll has also been signed from Finn Harps in order to bolster the defence.
Fan favourite Barry McNamee returns to Derry after a short spell with Cork City last year and has been made captain for the season. His return to the midfield will offer some much needed creativity with the loss of Aaron McEneff to Shamrock Rovers.
Greg Sloggett has been added from UCD and should form a sound relationship alongside McNamee in the centre.
Argentinian midfielder Gerardo Bruna is an interesting addition with experience at Real Madrid and Liverpool while Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Colchester United) and David Parkhouse (Sheffield United) join on loan alongside former Bohemians striker Eoghan Stokes and will look to fire the Candystripes to success this season with their goal power.
Backed by a raucous home crowd Declan will aim for a victorious return in charge of his hometown club when his side line out against last season’s First Division winners UCD.
On match day, tickets will be on sale from Long Tower Youth Club which can be accessed from the stadium car park.