MICHAEL O’Neill may have vacated the Shamrock Rovers hotseat last night, but it would appear that Derry City boss, Stephen Kenny’s name will NOT be on the list of candidates for the Tallaght job.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Despite widespread speculation this week relating to the immediate future of the Brandywell boss, Kenny yesterday refused to comment on the “paper talk,” suggesting that had he wanted the Rovers job, he would have taken it when the “Candy Stripes” had been relegated to the First Division at the end of the 2009 campaign.
“I’m not prepared to get involved in the speculation. A few seasons ago, when we were at the bottom of the First Division, that was probably the time to go,” he said.
“I stayed and helped build a new team which not only won the First Division at the first attempt and got back in the Premier Division, but this season we’re now looking forward to an involvement in the Europa League, the Setanta Cup and the three domestic competitions.
“The rebirth of the club and emergence of the local talent has been exciting and I think it’s a huge boost for Derry City to get back into Europe. We can’t under-estimate the importance of that. The club will be in the draw for next year’s competition and that’s hugely significant for the both the club and the city itself,” he added.
“We’ve come a long way since 2009 and it’s important that we strive to improve and be the best we can be.”
With his budget for the 2012 campaign yet to be ratified by the Board of Directors, Kenny accepted the fact that for members of last season’s squad it has been a frustrating period but he insisted that “no-one was to blame.”
He explained: “Yes, it has been a frustrating few weeks for out of contract players. Normally at the end of the season, players are informed whether they will remain part of the plans for the future or not but, unfortunately, due to the current uncertainty, we can’t do that just yet. It’s nobody’s fault, simply a situation which has developed due to the current economic climate. Budgets are still to be finalised for a variety of reasons and we’ll have to wait and see what develops.”
Given that Derry faced a particularly busy 2012 campaign, Kenny was delighted. “We want to be busy on the field of play but we can’t underestimate the commitment required. If successful, we could be playing up to 55 games next season, not to mention no shortage of travelling around the country and beyond. That’s a huge commitment so we must prepare as well as we can and make sure we’re in a position to face the challenges ahead.
“On the squad front, I’m very hopeful that the situation will be resolved quickly and that we can start planning for the season ahead,” continued the Derry boss.
Not for the first time, the Dubliner applauded his playing staff whose efforts, he felt, had been “nothing short of exceptional” last season.
“In our first season we finished third to get into Europe, won the League Cup to qualify for the Setanta Cup and that’s all down to the players. They’ve been exceptional and they’ve improved so much on the previous season.
“We can now look at the progress of James McClean and use him as an example of what can be achieved when players apply themselves and work hard in an effort to improve,” he declared.
A Pinch of Salt!
And with Danny Lafferty have returned from a trial with Brighton without securing a contract, Kenny took such news with a pinch of salt.
“Brighton have opted to monitor Daniel’s progress but, overall, had circumstances been different I would be confident they would have signed him. Their first team coach watched him play against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght late last season and he was impressed. He recommended him to the club, suggesting that they should sign him. The chairmen of both clubs agreed a fee pending manager, Gus Poyet’s approval. He obviously wanted to watch Daniel play yet when he travelled over to play in a Development Squad game against Reading, the Brighton manager wasn’t there,” noted Kenny.
“As yet, we have not heard anything from the club other than news from agents who have suggested that a decision would be made in January.”
While disappointed for the player, Kenny was delighted to have him available for the forthcoming campaign. “I’ve no doubt in my mind that Daniel Lafferty will get his opportunity to play at a higher level in England. He’s done terrific for us last season and he has a big future ahead of him, be it with Brighton or any other club. He is a player who has come on so much last season and he will improve even more. He grasped the opportunity at his home town club, he needed to get his head down and work hard, he did that and was a tremendous asset for us as the season progressed,” insisted the Dubliner.
“At 23-years-old he’s been an excellent professional who has experienced a minor setback, but given the programme we have next season, he will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his undoubted talent. This experience will stand him in good stead for the future.”
Glentoran in for Greacen?
Meanwhile, while Sligo are believed to have made an approach to sign Stewart Greacen, it’s now emerged that Glentoran have made the former Derry centre-half an offer to experience playing in the Irish League. “Glens” boss, Scott Young is believed to have offered his fellow Scot an opportunity to “fly in and out” of Belfast each week until the end of the Irish League season.
And Emmet Friars is another member of last year’s squad who has been attracting attention in the Irish League, but where any of either player would be prepared to sign a short-term contract until the end of the 1011/12 campaign, is not known.
Derry City Season Tickets for next season will continue to be sold in the Social Club tomorrow between 12.00 noon and 4.00 p.m.
To date, there has been an impressive response to the reduced prices for next year while many supporters have taken advantage of the “paying-up” scheme, having been given until January 31st to pay for their tickets in full. Those requiring further information should ring the club office on 71-373111.