STEWART Greacen’s return to Derry City will have delighted fans of the “Candy Stripes,” but the big Scot must now wait for a period of 48 days before making a return to action!
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Having departed the Brandywell in October last year, the fact that he has opted to return on a new contract, means that he will not gain international clearance for a period of almost seven weeks.
However, while he may miss the opening round of the Setanta Sports Cup, he will be available for Derry’s opening game of the Airtricity League campaign.
And team boss, Declan Devine, was predictably delighted at the return of last season’s rugged centre-half.
“He’s a major signing for the club,” declared Devine after Greacen had signed a new two years contract on Wednesday.
“He was considered an outstanding player in the Airtricity League last season and he epitomises everything we are attempting to do at the club.
“He’s brave, wears his heart on his sleeve and is so passionate. But he will also be particularly beneficial in assisting the development of young players at Derry City, something he’s done in the past,” insisted Devine.
“I think it’s fair to suggest that both Shane McEleney and Ryan McBride have developed really well when playing alongside Stewart last season.
“He brings a big reputation with him, a reputation that has been endorsed by all Derry City supporters last season, and he a proven professional. Stewart lives his life in the proper manner and I’m delighted he has joined us on a two years contract which will give us continuity.”
Describing his fitness as “decent,” the Derry boss agreed that the priority of the club’s coaching staff would be to improve the Scot’s fitness levels as soon as possible.
“He will reside in Derry and train every day with the group, working hard on his fitness before the start of the season.
“To be fair to him, he’s in decent shape but he arrived here last season when he wasn’t ready to play but he worked hard on his fitness and I would expect the same situation to materialise over the next few weeks,” added Devine.
And the Brandywell boss wasn’t overly concerned that Greacen would not be involved in the opening Setanta Cup game tomorrow afternoon.
“No, it not a major worry for us as we have some quality young players capable of coming in to play in the heart of our defence. Ryan McBride and Shane McEleney will be involved against Distillery and it’s a window of opportunity for both lads, it will be up to them to make Stewart battle for his place when he does return to full fitness.”
Devine remains committed to adding another two players to his squad, with a left-back and a right-sided midfield player the priority.
Meanwhile, Derry enjoyed a decent workout during last Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over near neighbours, Finn Harps, in the Brandywell.
Goals from Stephen McLaughin, a second half Rory Patterson penalty and a tap-in for substitute striker, Mark Farren, presented the “Candy Stripes” with their third pre-season victory.
Patrick McEleney again ran the show against a very youthful Finn Harps’ side whose cause was certainly not helped with the loss of the experienced Tommy Bonner and Stephen O’Donnell due to injury.
Derry got off to the best possible start when breaking the deadlock after just 35 seconds. A corner from the left saw Harps’ keeper, Ciaran Gallagher, spill the ball and when Davy McDaid headed it towards goal, McLaughlin rose to divert the ball home from close range.
Harps’ substitute, Paul McVeigh, was adjudged to have bundled McLaughlin over when inside the danger area and Patterson made no mistake from the spot.
The lively McEleney then intercepted a Thomas McMonagle pass before weaving his way into the penalty area to set up Farren for what was an easy goal near the end.
McMonagle, a Derry City registered player, will spend next season on loan with Harps.
Derry City - Doherty (Houghton, 46); Madden, McBride, S. McEleney (Crossan, 65), McNamee; Molloy, P. McEleney (Curran, 75); McLaughlin (Farren, 65), Patterson (Barr, 45), Milinceanu (Henry, 55); McDaid.
Finn Harps - Gallagher (Patton 80); Bonner (Merritt 7 mins.), Cowan (McVeigh, 54), McMonagle, Greene (Clarke, 54); Carlin, O’Hagan (McGarvey, 65), Barry O’Mahony (McGinty 65), Coll; McHugh (Healy 65), O’Donnell (Curtis, 21).
Referee - Mr. Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).