DERRY City boss, Declan Devine, may be frustrated at the current weather conditions which have had a significant effect on his pre-season training schedules, but for the club’s Chief Executive Officer, Sean Barrett, the proposed signing of Dundalk striker, Marc Griffin continues to prove particularly stressful.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The protracted transfer negotiations with the Co. Louth club - which date back to early November last year - have clearly annoyed Mr. Barrett, so much so that at one stage he backed off from what should have been a straightforward transfer.
Indeed, Mr. Barrett points to the sales of former players such as James McClean, Daniel Lafferty and Stephen McLaughlin to cross-Channel clubs as a “pain free experience.”
And having dealt with leading personalities in the football world such as Niall Quinn at Sunderland and Barry Fry at Peterborough, Barrett said he found it very difficult to deal with the prolonged problems associated with signing the Dundalk 20-year-old.
So has the striker finally signed on the dotted line?
“Unfortunately not,” answered the Brandywell C.E.O. “It’s now well documented that Marc Griffin is keen to sign for Derry City having completed his contract at Dundalk,” he added.
“Myself and others at Derry have spoken at length to Dundalk representatives, but at this stage nothing has been agreed and we are currently reassessing the situation.
“I thought we would be in a position to confirm that we had signed Marc, but that’s not been the case,” confirmed Barrett.
“It’s amazing. We’ve sold James McClean, Danny Lafferty and Stephen McLaughlin for significant transfer fees. We’ve negotiated wide-ranging add-ons in those contracts and yet I’ve experienced major difficulties in signing a young player who wants to join Derry City from Dundalk.
“I honestly don’t know where we are with the deal at the moment, but it’s clear that Declan (Devine) and Paul (Hegarty) are keen to sign Marc - he was actually their first target after the FAI Cup Final, but we’re still in no-man’s-land.
“Hopefully something will be worked out before mid-February transfer deadline,” he concluded.
It’s known that other club directors have become equally frustrated with the Griffin transfer, so much so that the club may well opt to take their chances by signing the player and allowing a Tribunal to decide the compensation fee to be paid to the “Lilywhites.”
It’s believed Derry had offered a nominal figure with further finance making its way to Oriel Park provided Griffin made a specified number of first team appearances over the period of his contract.
Meanwhile, team boss, Declan Devine, having already made his position clear that Griffin would be his final signing for the opening of the 2013 campaign, has also taken a step back.
“Marc has made it clear to me that he wants to sign for Derry City. He’s backed that up by travelling to Derry and getting involved in our pre-season training. He’s done very well in that regard and I’ve made it clear that I want him to be part of our squad for 2013,” declared Devine.
“Obviously, there have been a few problems in relation to the compensation fee but that’s being dealt with by our club chairman and, as far as I know, the Dundalk chairman.
“I firmly believe that Marc will be a Derry City player in advance of the Transfer Deadline and I’m delighted that he’s opted to move up and join in our pre-season work with our first team squad.
“And he’s quite entitled to do that as his contractual obligations with Dundalk have been satisfied. I think it’s fair to suggest that he’s been open and honest with the Dundalk club having opted to remain with them in their time of need last season.
“Having honoured his commitments, he is now entitled to secure a move which he has craved having spoken to us following the completion of his contract. I’ve kept him fully informed of everything that has gone on and that we remain keen to have him wearing a Derry City jersey next season.”
Meanwhile, the Griffin difficulties have been compounded with the recent weather conditions as the incessant rain has rendered the vast majority of Derry City Council pitches unplayable with the “Candy Stripes” struggling to find training facilities.
“Summer football has been great as far as we are concerned, but pre-season always seems to bring it’s fair share of problems,” lamented the Derry boss.
“The heavy rain has seen so match pitches waterlogged and we’ve struggled identifying facilities on which to train. We’ve been forced to train on astro turf surfaces in Derry, Strabane and at Inch which is not ideal, but it’s important that we don’t fall behind in our pre-season programme as stepping up our fitness levels is the priority at this early stage of the year.
“That said, the vast majority of League of Ireland teams are experiencing similar problems, the recent inclement weather has been the same up and down the country.”
And the fact that two attempts to play the annual “Billy Kee Memorial Cup” against Institute have both failed hasn’t helped either as Devine had hoped his first team squad would have got vital match practise in that game.
Initially scheduled for last Monday night, the game was postponed that afternoon with the hope of the Riverside Stadium hosting the match last Wednesday evening. However, the rain refused to relent and the game has now been rescheduled for Wednesday next, February 13th. But Derry will travel to Co. Fermanagh on Monday next, February 11th, to face Irish Premier League new boys, Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park, that game kicking off at 7.45 p.m.
“To be perfectly honest, we didn’t want to play two games within the space of three days but we do need match practise. Those players who are heavily involved in the Ballinamallard match, will have less game-time against Institute and vice-versa,” continued Devine.
“Ballinamallard boast a superb playing surface and, hopefully, that match will be played. We’re also hoping that the weather will improve and that the ‘Stute match will also be given the green light before we leave for Monaghan and our pre-season training camp.”
Devine confirmed that there was “nothing to report” on the injury front, with only Ruaidhri Higgins carrying a slight hamstring problem and that the players were training well and looking forward to getting match practise next week.