Donal O’Brien’s a perfect fit for Derry City

Former Derry City and Finn Harps striker, Donal O Brien has been appointed as City boss, Kenny Shiels' assistant manager.
Former Derry City and Finn Harps striker, Donal O Brien has been appointed as City boss, Kenny Shiels' assistant manager.

DERRY CITY manager, Kenny Shiels wasted no time in getting his assistant boss in place during his first full week in office and insists he ‘can’t wait’ to get working with ex-City striker, Donal O’Brien!

Shiels crossed paths with the former Cockhill Celtic manager during his time in the Irish League, and he believes the Dubliner is the perfect fit to take on the role of his No. 2 at Brandywell.

An article in the Derry Journal on October 1990 announcing the arrival of Donal O'Brien to Derry City as a trialist.

An article in the Derry Journal on October 1990 announcing the arrival of Donal O'Brien to Derry City as a trialist.

O’Brien, who enjoyed two spells at Derry City as a striker, first arrived on Foyleside as a 22 year-old trialist on the recommendation of ex-City striker, Noel Larkin in October 1990.

Larkin advised then Derry City boss, Jim McLaughlin to take him on trial after playing against O’Brien in Western Australia when representing North Perth Croatia.

The Dubliner spent four years at the club and won the League of Ireland ‘Player of the Year’ in 1992 and reached the FAI Cup Final in 1994.

So he knows all about the ‘Candy Stripes’ rich history in the League of Ireland but it was his record as a manager which made him the stand-out candidate to become Shiels’ assistant.

I know he has a positive way of thinking and that’s all you need - the chemistry and the dynamic among the group of players is important and he can help with that.

Kenny Shiels

The 46 year-old has overseen one of the most successful spells in the Cockhill Celtic’s history, having guided the Buncrana men to four Ulster Senior League titles during his seven years in charge!

And Shiels believes O’Brien boasts all the right attributes, claiming his involvement can only be good for the club.

“I’ve always liked Donal and I want to get working with him as soon as possible,” said Shiels.

“We’re going to Letterkenny on Sunday to watch the Derry City U19s play.

“He’s trustworthy and is a good coach,” he continued. “He knows the game and he’s someone I’m looking forward to working with.

“He can only be good for the club. Our paths have crossed in the Irish League,” he explained.

“I know he has a positive way of thinking and that’s all you need - the chemistry and the dynamic among the group of players is important and he can help with that.

“You don’t win anything without spirit and Donal will bring that.”

O’Brien who enjoyed two spells with Finn Harps and represented Glentoran, Crusaders and Glenavon in the Irish League, will bring a wealth of experience and his knowledge of the League of Ireland will certainly prove beneficial.

For him, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse when Shiels contacted him on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s an opportunity to be involved at a higher level after managing for seven years at Intermediate Level with Cockhill Celtic,” said O’Brien. “I felt I achieved everything I could with Cockhill but this is a new challenge and one I’m really looking forward to.”