BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DERRY City manager Declan Devine believes that Ramelton’s Barry McNamee can lead his band of youngsters into an exciting new era at Brandywell Stadium.
City defeated Bray Wanders 2-0 on Monday, with Michael Rafter’s double securing a third win in eight days for the Candystripes, who are the closest challengers to pace-setters and defending champions, Sligo Rovers. Derry are five points behind the Bit O’ Red at the top, but Devine believes that his crop can mount a challenge.
McNamee flourished in City’s march to FAI Cup glory in 2012 – and Devine has a talented bunch at his hands. Barry’s brother Tony is now a regular in City’s matchday squads while Michael Duffy came in on Monday as a second half sub. He is a son of St Johnston native Michael ‘Bamber’ Duffy and played some underage football with Kildrum Tigers before signing on at the Brandywell.
“We’re trying to develop young, local players here,” Devine told the Donegal News after Monday’s win.
“We have a lot of players today who are under 22 years of age. We had young subs like Michael Duffy and Ryan Curran coming on and doing very well. Barry McNamee, again, was a different class.
“We felt we needed energy and impetus to put them (Bray) onto the back foot. We dominated the game, we created the most chances and some of the football at times was very good.
“We are in a different place to a lot of clubs. We want the young, local talent to come through here.
“It has been proven in the past that we can develop players.”
Rafter scored a goal in each half as City strolled to a 2-0 win, despite being down goalscoring ace Rory Patterson.
Devine said: “There is tremendous freedom with our attacking options. There is no consraints on them in the final third – and I feel, with the standard of player we have, that we can cause havoc.
“I’m delighted with the application of the players we have. They’re playing the way that we want them to play. I feel we’re fitter and stronger than we were last year.
“We have goalscoring threats right throughout the team. The desire and hunger that the players are showing, long may it continue.”
That said, Devine is remaining grounded: “It is very early days. We finished fifth last year. We’re not getting carried away. I’m over the moon that we have nine points in eight days and that we have two clean sheets with a trip to Cork thrown in there too.”
Meanwhile, Letterkenny man Seán Houston faces an an anxious wait to learn the results of a scan on the hamstring injury which forced him out of the Candystripes’ home win against Shelbourne last Friday night.
Houston had impressed in his couple of games since return from a previous injury, but the former Finn Harps and Bray player is facing another spell in the stands.
Devine said: “Seán’s is a bit more serious than Rory Patterson’s, but we’ll get it scanned and see how it is.”
EXCITEMENT is building in Ramelton in advance of this Tuesday, (December 5) evening’s switching on of the Christmas lights...