It’s been all change Foyleside ahead of the 2019 Premier Division season. Declan Devine has returned to manage the club, taking the reigns from Kenny Shiels and has built a squad almost from scratch.
Just four players were at the club on Devine’s arrival with the 2012 FAI Cup winning manager recruiting over ten players ahead of Friday’s game against UCD and the squad will be bolstered by the announcement that Institute player Michael McCrudden has officially made the switch to Derry on the eve of their league opener.
An 8th place finish for The Candystripes was a severe disappointment and no doubt their poor home form contributed to that finish as they lost seven games in seven at The Brandywell to see out their season.
Devine will be looking for an improvement this season and there would be no better way to start than with a home victory over newly promoted UCD on Friday night..
“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,” Devine told Derry City’s website.
“This club means a lot to the people of this city and we’re in a privileged position of representing them.”
“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.”
An interesting point to note is the case of Greg Sloggett who goes up against his former club on Friday night in an interesting point of note ahead of both clubs season opener after the midfielder played a large part in The Students’ First Division winning campaign in 2018.
Collie O’Neill’s side face a tough trip to the Ryan McBride Brandywell on the opening night of the Premier Division, and The Students return to the top flight.
UCD have been tipped to struggle this season but having kept much of their squad together from their impressive 2018 First Division season they’ll be looking to turn a few heads and won’t be pushovers when they face The Candystripes on Friday night.
“We know it is going to be a tough test up there,” O’Neil said speaking to the club’s website.
“However, at this level every game is going to be difficult, and we are going to have to be at our best if we are to have a chance of coming away with a result. We will be looking to go out and play the way we know we can play, on a good surface in a great new stadium and start showing everyone what we can do at this level.”
The Dublin side were dealt a huge blow this week when defender Evan Osam ruptured his Achilles tendon during training and has now been ruled out for most of the season.
"Unfortunately Evan is going to miss most of the season after rupturing his Achilles in training on Monday.
“It's a big loss to us. He really hasn’t has any luck over the last few seasons with injuries. He did his cruciate at Shamrock Rovers and then did his ankle last year and missed most of the season.
“They've all been different injuries and he’s really been unlucky with them. I feel so bad for him and it's a tough one for him to take. He’s been brilliant in training, and in our College games and was really looking forward to the start of the season.
“He's a top class player and is a big loss for us, being an important part of how we defend and play but we have to deal with it and move on. He’s a great lad though and I’ve no doubt he will bounce back and be determined to come back fitter and stronger."
The Students will also be without the services of Paul Doyle as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury picked up in a pre-season game against Shelbourne.
Referee: John McLoughlin
This will be the first time that the sides meet in a competitive fixture since Derry City hosted UCD at the Brandywell in October 2014 when The Students ran out 0-1 winners.
This will be the first time since Derry City’s league opener in 2009 that goalkeeper Gerard Doherty will not be between the sticks for their first game of the season, with the goalkeeper having made the switch to Crusaders during the off-season.
The last time Derry played their first game of the season with a different goalkeeper was when they faced Friday night’s opponents UCD on the opening day of the 2008 season when Darren Quigley lined out for The Candystripes in Belfield.
Derry City 4/7; Draw 11/4; UCD 9/2.
Derry City 1 - 1 UCD
Injured: Evan Osam, Paul Doyle.