2018 Season Preview - Derry City

Mon, Feb 12 2018

Manager: Kenny Shiels

Stadium: Brandywell Stadium

 

Players in: Rory Hale (Galway United), Gavin Peers (St Patrick’s Athletic), John Cofie (Free Agent), Armin Aganovic (Raufoss IL), David Hopkirk (Dunfermline Athletic), Conor Agnew (Free Agent), (James McDonagh (Sligo Rovers), Ronan Hale (Birmingham City – 6 month loan), Nicky Low (Dundee – on loan)

 

Players out: Barry McNamee (Cork City), Aaron Barry (Cork City), Dean Jarvis (Dundalk), Sam Todd (Finn Harps - -on loan)

 

Extratime.ie Key Man: Aaron McEneff

 

The Derry born midfielder has really come into his own since returning from a spell at Tottenham Hotspur to play for his hometown side in 2015.

 

The 22 year old has been a key member of Kenny Shiels side for the past two seasons, when the Candystripes qualified for a Europa League place both years.

 

With Barry McNamee moving south to Cork City for the 2018 season, McEneff will be relied upon even more now to run the centre of the pitch and to help win the midfield battle for Kenny Shiels men, something the Derry native has proven he can do many times before.

 

Extratime.ie One to Watch: John Cofie

 

The Ghanaian striker cost Manchester United £1million when he swapped Burnley for The Red Devils as a 14 year old in 2007 and a decade later the 25 year old has found himself playing for Derry City.

 

The England U17 international has had ten clubs over the course of his career, not counting the several clubs he’s been loaned out to down through the years. With not much more than 10 goals to his name in senior football it will be very interesting to see if Cofie can prove himself a decent signing at Derry City.

 

How they did last season:

 

League: Although they managed to finish fourth last season it was an incredibly tough year for Kenny Shiels and his squad.

 

Derry were turning heads early on last year in the Premier Division having won their opening four matches, including an impressive 3-1 win over then champions Dundalk.

 

After dismissing Drogheda United 4-0 in Buncrana, however, their captain Ryan McBride passed away suddenly at his home. He was 27 years old. It was a major blow for his family, friends, teammates, the club and the City of Derry.

 

Kenny Shiels had put together a talented young squad but the passing of McBride had the team understandably struggling to find form in the immediate period following the tragedy.

 

To the club’s credit they battled hard throughout the season and sealed a fourth place finish after a 0-0 draw with Cork City at Turner’s Cross in October, which guaranteed them European football for 2018. A huge success for Kenny Shiels and his squad pulling together after facing such tragic circumstances.

 

FAI Cup: Derry will look to forget their FAI Cup campaign in 2017 as it ended quickly and abruptly in the First Round at the hands of eventual runners up, Dundalk.

 

The Candystripes travelled to Oriel Park where goals from David McMillan, Michael Duffy and two from John Mountney saw them knocked out of the cup competition.

 

EA Sports Cup:  Derry received a bye in the first round of the EA Sports Cup. The ten time champions in this competition met Galway United in the second round where goals from Kevin Devaney and Vinny Faherty saw The Candystripes knocked out.

 

What to expect this season: Kenny Shiels and his squad showed themselves to be extremely resilient last season, an admirable trait that should stand to them in 2018 also.

 

It’s hard to see Derry making any inroads into the top two with Dundalk and Cork City still looking like the two strongest teams in the country by some distance but all going well the club should have no issue finishing in a European qualification spot.

 

Most of their squad is still intact only losing Barry McNamee, Aaron Barry and Dean Jarvis to other clubs during the off-season. Gavin Peers has come in from St Patrick’s Athletic, and at 32 years of age he is an experienced replacement for Aaron Barry at the back.

 

The Hale brothers have also been signed up, Rory for the season after impressing during his short time at Galway United could prove himself a great replacement for Barry McNamee, and Ronan on loan from Birmingham who will add significant depth up front for The Candystripes with John Cofie coming in and the veteran Rory Patterson also signed up for 2018.

 

Title Odds: 20/1

 

First game: Derry travel to the RSC on Friday, 16th February to get the first glimpse of Waterford FC in their first game back in the Premier Division since the 2008 season (kick-off 7:45pm).