DELIGHTED to have confirmed the signing of a highly experienced centre-back last night, Brandywell boss, Roddy Collins, claimed Cliff Byrne would prove to be a major asset to Derry City.
And the 31-year-old defender, who has signed a one year deal, said he was very impressed with the what he has seen since he arrived on Foyleside last weekend.
“Obviously, I’m delighted to get my immediate future sorted out after leaving Oldham and having explored every avenue, I’m happy to have joined Derry City,” said the Dubliner who has never played in League of Ireland football.
“I left home at a young age to play in England but I’ve quite a few pals who have played in the league and having made contact with them, they highly recommended Derry City as a progressive club and one at which I would fit in very quickly,” added Byrne.
“And since I’ve arrived I’ve got a really good feeling about it all. I’ve trained with the squad and I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve seen so far.”
With Derry having a number of young defenders on their books, Byrne said he was “very happy” to be playing in a team with so many young players.
“The manager made it clear that he wanted an experienced centre-back and I’m very happy to bring that quality with me. I’m also very happy to lend my experience to the young players around me and I’m looking forward to getting started,” he concluded.“
For Collins it was a case of mission accomplished as Byrne had also been a major target.
“Cliff has just arrived, he’s looked around the facilities, trained with the lads and you’d think he was here for the past 10 years,” noted Collins.
“He’s a great professional and a player I was very keen to sign. He set his marker down straight away in training this morning. He knows the game inside out and his standards are sky high. Yes, I’m really dellighted to have got him.
“And I think our supporters will be absolutely thrilled with Cliffy once they see him play. I’ve been saying from day one that we need experience at the back and there’s no-one more experienced than him as far as I’m concerned.”
Collins was also in the company of ex-Hibs centre-half, Tim Clancy and former Sheffied United player, Aaron Barry, at the Brandywell yesterday, the two players still in discussions with the Derry boss.
“Now that I’ve got Cliff, I hope to add Tim Clancy to the squad as we’re still having discussions and, fingers crossed, I may also be adding young Aaron as well come Wednesday. He can play at left-back or centre-half. He’s been with Sheffield United and he comes to me highly recommended, so we’ll have to wait and see what develops.
“But both players will be involved in tonight’s game against Institute in Drumahoe in the annual Billy Kee Memorial game,” confirmed Collins.
“I intend to field a strong panel with all the first team squad members involved including a few of our new signings.
“Cliff Byrne will not be playing as he has a few loose ends to tie up, but we’ll also be travelling to Belfast to play Cliftonville this Saturday afternoon, and he will feature in that game. “We will be using a strong panel with all the major players in the first team squad involved and I’m really glad to get a game on grass and we’re all looking forward to it.
“We’re now ready for games having trained quite a lot over the past few weeks as I need to see all the lads in a match situation as it’s still a learning curve for me with so many young lads I haven’t seen play.”
Having returned from Scotland at the weekend, Derry’s new striker, Mark Stewart, will also feature in tonight’s match.
“I’m really looking forward to the game. I’ve really taken to Derry City and the players involved at the club and I’m thrilled to have signed a contract for the new season,” said the former Kilmarnock and Bradford City hitman.
Tonight’s game will kick-off at 7.45 p.m. and the admission prices are £5 and £3 (concessionary).