DERRY City’s management team of Declan Devine and Paul Hegarty are expected to have their current contracts extended following tonight’s meeting of the Brandywell club’s Board of Directors, the “Journal” has learned.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Not surprisingly, the move follows last Sunday’s superb victory over St. Pat’s in the FAI Cup final, a feat which not only boosted the financial coffers but also the popularity of the “Candy Stripes” after what had been a frustrating 2012 campaign.
But for Derry City Chairman, Mr. Philip O’Doherty, the club must now push on and immediately begin planning for the 2013 campaign, as he has high hopes that the Brandywell club will play it’s part in celebrating Derry’s City of Culture celebrations next year.
“Quite a few people seem to think that after the success we’ve gained this season, we sit back and take a few months off, but that’s simply not the case,” he declared.
“Our next Board meeting has been arranged for Friday night (tonight) and we have a few major items on the agenda for that particular meeting. We will be reflecting on the season just concluded and we will be speaking with both Declan (Devine) and Paul (Hegarty) in relation to the possibility of extending their current contracts,” he confirmed.
“We also have two players who remain out of contract - Simon Madden and David McDaid - so we’ll be examining that issue and, of course, the budget that will be put in place for next season.”
The chairman also suggested that with Europa League qualification now secured, the perceived budget would be altered.
“Obviously, the situation on that front has changed given that we’ve secured a place in the qualifying stages of the Europa League so, hopefully, we will be in a position to increase the manager’s budget for next season.”
Looking back on Sunday’s visit to the Aviva Stadium, Mr. O’Doherty was delighted to see so many Derry City fans make the trip to Dublin.
“It was great to see so many happy faces after the final whistle but, from my point of view, I really didn’t get much time to enjoy those celebrations.
“I actually found it very stressful because the margin between success and failure is so small. However, it was a fantastic victory but I must admit I did feel for the St. Pat’s chairman. He congratulated me after the final whistle, suggesting that our team was stronger and fitter when and where it mattered.
“The 2012 season may be over but we really do have so much work to do for the 2013 campaign. I think we’ve really got to try and take advantage of the current feel-good factor. We hope to get our season tickets out as soon as possible plus a new range of merchandise and, more importantly, it’s vital that we try to attract greater numbers to the Brandywell next year.
“The vast majority of the finance we take in goes into the manager’s budget and the manager will receive every spare penny we can give him. But we don’t hand out money we haven’t got, that’s a dangerous practice. Next season we will host 18 games, with two visits from quite a few of the top teams including Sligo and Shamrock Rovers, so we have quite a lot to look forward to.
“There’s also news of a resurgent Limerick team, who appear to be spending money as they prepare to return to the Premier Division, so that should make the league all the more competitive which is what we want,” claimed the Derry chairman.
“Hopefully, we will not experience the same level of injury problems we had in the season just finished - surely that couldn’t happen again - but it’s important we remain competitive after what has been a good 2012 campaign.
“Our target was to get back into European football after having been denied that last season despite qualifying on the field of play. However, legally, UEFA refused to bend the rules but in 2013 we are back and, hopefully, we can get a run in the competition. But I am disappointed that the proposed Brandywell refurbishment project has not progressed now that we’ve qualified for Europe.”
Mr. O’Doherty also heaped praise on the club’s continued development of young players.
“I didn’t know of the talent that was Barry McNamee up until two months ago but I was also impressed with the other young lads who made it through last season. Barry has been unbelievable and his efforts saw him start in the cup final, it certainly was a roller-coaster ride for him and his family.
“I’ve also learned that the McNamee family and friends - yes, those who wore those fabulous Fellaini wigs in the Aviva Stadium - purchased something like 93 tickets to support Barry and Derry City in the FAI Cup final. So it’s very important that the progress being made at that level in the club must continue with our coaching staff playing an integral role by bringing young players through.”
Mr. O’Doherty accepted there had been a significant drop in attendances for 2012, but he felt those figures were balanced out due to the successful run to the final of the Setanta Sports Cup which Derry lost after a penalty shoot-out against Crusaders.
“We must now sit down and crunch the numbers very quickly for the new season,” he maintained. “Our manager wants to talk to players sooner rather than later, so we must have the necessary figures discussed and prepared for Friday night’s Board meeting.”