Life’s a pitch!

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DERRY City have opted to take full advantage of the recent opening of St. Columb’s College’s new 3G pitch, the club having trained on the new facility this week.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

Given that tonight’s opponents at Oriel Park (7.45 p.m.) play on a similar surface, Brandywell boss, Declan Devine has left nothing to chance.

Interestingly, Devine is looking forward to watching his players perform on the astro-turf pitch, suggesting that the surfaces he has encountered at UCD and Bohemians, in particular, this season have been far from perfect.

“I’ve no problems whatsoever travelling to play on the artificial surface at Dundalk,” claimed the Derry boss at yesterday afternoon’s training session at the Buncrana Road venue.

“I’m actually looking forward to it and while it may be considered an unnatural surface, I believe it will lend itself to a very attack-minded game and that suits technically-gifted players.

“Yes, it can take a bobble or an awkward bounce but given the quality of the pitches we have played on at UCD and Dalymount, I don’t mind us playing on an artificial surface this weekend.

“In fact, I’m very pleased to be going to Dundalk at this time of the year as the vast majority of pitches up and down the country are in very poor condition at the moment,” he added.

“It’s great to see that St. Columb’s College have invested in their facilities and while similar pitches in the Derry area - at Magee, Creggan and at Leafair - are all different, St. Columb’s is a split new facility with a magnificent surface and it’s great for Derry City to be able to train on it and prepare for the Dundalk match.

“I think it’s a fabulous facility for the school to have at its disposal and I’ve no doubt that members of the general public will also be in a position to use it in the future.”

Rory ready to return

Meanwhile, looking forward to this evening’s fixture, Derry will be boosted with the news that the club’s top hitman, Rory Patterson, is ready to return to action as he attempts to add to his five league goals for the season so far.

And while Michael Rafter has since joined the Strabane man on that total, it’s possible that both will start against the Co. Tipperary man’s former club.

Confirming that Patterson had been involved in full sessions this week, Devine said that Patterson would start the match if passed fully fit.

“Rory has trained this week with no negative reaction to his hamstring tweak. But he will undergo another session on Thursday (yesterday) and if fully fit, he starts the game,” insisted the team boss.

“Given the form he has been in, if fit to play he will start. We were very disappointed to lose him for what was a short period of time but, then again, we refused to take any risks and he now appears to be ready for action again. He’s a player who, in my opinion, would walk into any team in this league.”

Commenting on Rafter’s progression, Devine was thrilled. “Michael Rafter has been outstanding in Rory’s absence leading the front line and that’s exactly what we’ve been attempting to achieve this season.”

DUNDALK MATCH PREVIEW

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