Mark Timlin never expected to be playing for Derry City on the doorstep of his family home, but tonight he’s hoping to contribute to a ‘special night’ in the history of the club which begins its home campaign at Maginn Park.
The pacy winger lives less than two minutes walk from the Candy Stripes’ 2017 base, in Ardaravan, and will make the short 300 yard journey to the venue tonight in the hope he can kickstart his second spell at the club.
Returning to the club following a season at St Pat’s, Timlin continues Derry’s long standing connection with Buncrana and follows in the footsteps of the late Hugh ‘Dick’ Doherty, and Danny ‘Tinney’ Doherty who hailed from the West End area of the seaside town.
The Buncrana Hearts graduate was an unused substitute as Derry opened the league campaign with a 4-1 win away at Bohs but with League of Ireland football coming to his hometown of Buncrana, he’s desperate not to miss out.
“It’s something I would never have imagined happening - Derry City being based in Buncrana and using Maginn as their home pitch,” said Timlin. “Especially as the pitch is that close to me.
“I’m really excited for tomorrow night and a lot of my family and friends will be there - a lot more than would have been at the Brandywell where only a handful would have got up. I’m looking forward to it.
I’ve had a stop-start preseason and at the minute I’m not really firing on all cylinders but I’m getting there.Mark Timlin
“It’s not even just Buncrana,” he added. “There’s a massive football fanbase in Inishowen. There will be a bigger Inishowen support coming to see Derry this season.”
Timlin is desperate to become a ‘key player’ for City once again this season and with City playing on his home patch, a stone’s throw from his family home, the Buncrana man is hoping to enjoy a memorable campaign.
He admits he’s had a stop-start pre-season and isn’t ‘firing on all cylinders’ and after sitting out last week’s impressive win at Dalymount Park, he accepts he’s got a fight on his hands to win his place in the starting line-up.
However, the exciting wideman isn’t one to shirk a challenge and is prepared to do all he can to get Kenny Shiels’ attention.
“I’ve had a stop-start preseason and at the minute I’m not really firing on all cylinders but I’m getting there,” he said. “The boys did brilliantly last week so it’s up to me to force my way into the team.
“I want to become a key player for Derry and I’m looking forward to that challenge. It’s not a case of coming in here and walking into the team.
“With the result last week as well it’s going to be hard work to break in. I’m looking forward to that challenge, especially with home games being near my home. I don’t want to be left on the bench so it’s up to me to work hard and get into the team and get off the mark in terms of goals.”
With striker, Rory Patterson and Ben Doherty ruled out injured, Shiels will have to reshuffle his starting line-up and Timlin says he’ll be ready if called upon.
“I like playing on the wing but I seem to contribute more when I’m playing centrally. I just want to be on the pitch and contribute going forward.
“There’s a lot of options up front and there will be a serious battle for places this year with the amount of attacking talent it’s brilliant.
“We’ll find out Friday but I’ll be ready if called upon. The boys won 4-1 last week so I cant see him changing it too much. It’s up to me to break into that team in the next couple of weeks.”