Two close calls for Zayed as City begin pre-season

Derry's city's Stephen McLaughlin and James Doherty, Finn Harps race for this ball on Sunday in Ballybofey. 0802cg17
Derry's city's Stephen McLaughlin and James Doherty, Finn Harps race for this ball on Sunday in Ballybofey. 0802cg17

DERRY CITY’S new striker, Eamon Zayed, must have experienced mixed emotions having signed for the “Candy Stripes” last weekend.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

Having made his first appearance against Finn Harps for the J. J. Reid Cup in Ballybofey on Sunday afternoon, the Dubliner received a late call-up to join the Libyan international team for tomorrow’s game against Benin.

Zayed received contact to fly out from Dublin at 6.00 a.m. yesterday to Amsterdam and then catch a flight to Africa, needless to state the player didn’t travel given the short notice.

Also involved in tomorrow’s game in Africa will be Sligo Rovers defender, Romauld Boco, who is now captain of Benin - but both players will face each other on Friday night, March 4th, when Derry open the 2011 Premier Division season against the ‘Bit O’Red’ at the Brandywell.

Twenty-four hours after signing for Derry City, it’s believed Zayed then received an offer to join an Egyptian club, offering full-time terms for next season!

However, given the current strife which exists in that country, it would be fair to suggest that the 26-year-old hitman was happy to have signed on the dotted line for the Brandywell club.

Meanwhile, Derry boss, Stephen Kenny, caused a bit of a surprise on Sunday afternoon at Finn Park when one Aidan Price was listed on the visiting team sheet, the former Shamrock Rovers’ captain having agreed to travel to Derry to play in a few pre-season games and take part in this week’s training sessions.

The 27-year-old Dubliner remained on the park for the 90 minutes, accompanying Shane McEleney in the heart of the Derry defence.

However, Kenny would only state that Derry was having a look at the player and the player was having a look at Derry City.

“Aidan has other options but he agreed to travel up for a few days to play and train with us. Obviously he played against Finn Harps so we’ll have to wait and see how things develop. I’m sure we’ll have a chat about the issue before the end of the week,” said the Derry boss.

Kenny was also happy that his players got through the opening pre-season game without any injury worries given the poor state of the Finn Park pitch.

“To be fair to Finn Harps, we both wanted the game to take place despite the poor surface which had taken on quite a lot of rain over recent days.

“The match was certainly worthwhile and I was happy with the effort put in. We may have lost out on penalties, but it was a good work-out for both sides and the priority was to get through it with any injuries and that was achieved,” added Kenny.

He was delighted to see new signing, Stephen McLaughlin, play a prominent role against his former club, particularly in the first half and praised the passing movements on the poor surface.

“Passing the ball on a very soft pitch can be difficult, but I thought we put together some decent passages of play. We created chances but didn’t take them and while we had three goal-bound efforts cleared off the goal-line, I was satisfied with the overall performance.

“I’m very pleased that things are moving along well at the moment. We had a good run-out against Harps and I expect the game against Longford Town at Flancare Park (this Thursday night) and against Dungannon Swifts next Tuesday at Stangmore Park.

“We’re shaping up well and while both Kevin Deery (calf) and James McClean (hip flexer muscle) are nursing minor injuries, I’d be hopeful that both will be available for selection come March 4th when we open our league campaign against Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell,” concluded Kenny.

While Sunday’s match saw workmanlike performances from both sides, Derry keeper, Gerard Doherty, was rarely troubled throughout the 90 minutes which finished with a blank scoresheet.

Given that the teams were competing for the J. J. Reid Cup, it had been decided to go straight into penalty kicks following the final whistle, it was Harps who emerge more prolific in the shoot-out when winning 4-3 in the end.

Finn Harps - Ciaran Gallagher, James Doherty, Ciaran Coll, Paddy McLaughlin, Keith Cowan, Conor O’Grady, Mark Forker, Thomas Bonnar, Oisin McMenamin, Kevin McHugh, Marc Brolly. Subs. used - Gareth Harkin, Gary Whoriskey, Kieran Gorman, Garbhan Friel, Neil harkin and Gary Merritt. Not used: Chris Patton.

Derry City - Gerard Doherty, Eddie McCallion, Shane McEleney, Aidan Price, Daniel Lafferty, Michael McCrudden, Ruaidhri Higgins, Barry Molloy, Stephen McLaughlin, Ruairi Harkin, Eamon Zayed. Subs. used - Gareth McGlynn, Patrick McEleney, Ryan McBride, Sean McColgan, James Henry. Not used: Sean O’Donnell.

Referee - Mr. Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).