“A UNIQUE story in professional sport,” was how Brandywell boss, Stephen Kenny, described Mark Farren’s return to his title chasing Derry City squad following a Press Conference yesterday.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And the Dubliner, who insisted on being guided by medical opinion over the past few months, was delighted to see his former striker resume his career at the Lone Moor Road venue.
Indeed, Kenny also confirmed that the player would be included in the squad which travels to the Sligo Showgrounds this weekend to face a crucial match against the Bit O’Red on Saturday afternoon.
“We can’t expect miracles from Mark as he’s been out for the best part of a year,” warned Kenny.
“Things will not happen overnight, but he’s in the prime of his life and in the prime of his career.
“His health has always been the most important thing as far as we were concerned but now that we’ve received written confirmation from the neurosurgeon that he’s okay to resume his career, everyone at the club is delighted. It’s the news we’ve been waiting for,” added Kenny.
The Derry boss also praised the 29-year-old Greencastle man, describing him as “courageous and determined.”
He went on: “It’s a very good news story in professional sport. In fact, it’s a unique story having battled his way through frustration and worry. He’s been both determined and courageous while others in a similar position may have put their feet up and say that’s me finished.
“Life is short and Mark now has a great opportunity to be successful again. He has a special talent and he wants to fulfil his potential. So you have to have great admiration for him.”
Given that the player has yet to play a competitive game this season, had Kenny any worries in relation to his fitness?
“He hasn’t taken part in a youth team or a reserve team game because we haven’t been able to do that. He didn’t get the go-head until this month from the medical people, so we couldn’t take any risks in any type of game.
“We followed medical guidance and we wouldn’t dare to breach it given the seriousness of Mark’s condition. However, I’ve opted to include him in the squad which travels to Sligo despite that.
“That said, he has kept his body in good condition having worked hard even though he wasn’t sure when or if he could get back. He has certainly experienced frustration and, at times, even wondered if he would ever get back to playing football again.
“But now he’s got the go-ahead, it certainly gave him a boost and he’s worked his socks off, so we’ll see how he goes.”
With James McClean having joined Sunderland and Gareth McGlynn currently out injured, Farren adds numbers to what is a small squad and Kenny warmly welcomed that.
“As a striker, you never lose the ability to score goals but the fact that he has remained in good physical condition is a major plus factor.
“Scoring goals is a difficult thing to do so to have someone able to do that is excellent.
“But apart from his goals, his all-round game has been excellent. His workrate and pace is difficult for defenders to contend with and they don’t enjoy marking a player as quick as Mark.
“I think he has so much to look forward to now. He’s been through so much. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for him over the past few years and I’ve no doubt that everyone at the club will be thrilled that he’s about to return to action,” continued Kenny.
Kenny also felt that Farren’s personal challenge to surpass Liam Coyle’s scoring record would be interesting.
“It’s a challenge for him once he’s back playing. Liam is recognised as one of the all-time greats at Derry City and while Mark played with him for a short spell, I think they have great respect for each other and I’ve no doubt that Liam will be willing Mark to score the six goals he needs to beat the record of 112.”