REPUBLIC of Ireland’s James McClean will lead a star studded XI to Brandywell Stadium on Sunday to take on Barry Molloy’s Derry City select as part of the midfielder’s testimonial year. (Kick-off: 3p.m)
Managed by Everton and Ireland star, Seamus Coleman, McClean’s select will include both music and TV stars as well as Derry footballers, Shane Duffy (Everton), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle), Danny Lafferty (Burnley) and Stephen McLaughlin (Nottingham Forest).
McClean has also revealed that former Wigan Athletic and Bolton boss, Owen Coyle will be involved as will popular stand-up comedian, Kevin Bridges and Danny O’Reilly, the lead singer from Irish indie band, ‘The Coronas’.
And with 50 per cent of the gate going to the Foyle Hospice, the big hearted Creggan man has offered to match that total!
McClean also revealed last night, that he is hoping the charity match can become an annual event as he attempts to ‘give something back’ to one of the town’s favourite charity organisations which cared for his late grandmother who had bravely battled against cancer.
“It’s about giving something back to the Foyle Hospice,” he said. “That’s something I’ve always been interested in. The Hospice looked after my granny, Vonnie, when she was diagnosed with cancer and she always spoke very highly of them.
“Sadly she passed away a few years ago on Christmas Eve and our family were grateful for everything they had done for her.
“The fact that it ties in with Barry Molloy’s testimonial year is fantastic too,” he added. “Barry’s been a big player for Derry City during the past 10 years and it’s nice for him to be recognised.
“Next year all proceeds will be in aid of the Foyle Hospice but this year it’s worked out well because it ties in with Barry Molloy’s testimonial.
“Barry needed to get a team to play against for his testimonial match and I needed a team to play against for my charity game, so it’s worked out well for both of us.
“He’s one of those players you always want to be on your side in training matches because he’s strong, has a good engine and hounds you down. He’s made a very decent career out of doing that and it’s good that the club have a chance to honour him for his service”.
While McClean’s XI features some of Derry’s top professional footballers currently plying their trade in the top leagues in England, Molloy’s Derry City will certainly be no pushovers.
In fact, Molloy’s Select includes former Derry City players who played in the ‘Candy Stripes’ 2006 squad which won the FAI Cup after going on that terrific European run.
Former City skipper, Kevin Deery, Paddy McLaughlin, Darren Kelly, Ciaran Martyn, Gary Beckett, Ruaidhri Higgins, David McDaid and Eddie McCallion are all expected to be involved among others.
Former Derry City winger, McClean admits he’s been under pressure to organise the match following his two game friendly tour of United States with Republic of Ireland but, nevertheless, he’s still hoping for a big turnout for such a good cause.
The Creggan man has been busy making phone calls and arranging his side from a family holiday in Greece this week as the final touches are put in place for Sunday’s big game.
“It has been stressful trying to organise it because I’ve only really had the last three weeks to do it,” he explained. “I see this year’s match as the launch year of what I hope will be an annual game to benefit the Foyle Hospice.
“Next year I’ll make sure I have six months to plan it, but it’ll be good to get it up and running this Sunday.
“I’ve been under pressure to get it sorted because I only got a date for it three weeks ago. There’s a lot of people interested in taking part in it but mostly because of holidays they aren’t able to make it.
“I’ve still managed to get some very decent players to play and, hopefully, we can get as many people through the gates as possible because it’s for a great cause.
“At the minute we’ve got myself, Shane Duffy, Shane Ferguson, Danny Lafferty, Graham Barrett who is ex-Arsenal and Ireland interntaional in the line-up and Seamie Coleman will be involved in the managing side of things. Danny out of ‘The Coronas’ will also be playing too so it should be a good occasion.
“It’s obviously important to get the local lads involved as well.”
Following the match, supporters will also have the opportunity to win sporting memorabilia, including a signed Celtic jersey and prizes donated by Ireland legend Paul McGrath at an event in the Tower Hotel at 9.00 p.m. on Sunday night.
“We’re also going to have a testimonial function in the Tower Hotel where we’ll be auctioning off some of the memorabilia we have gathered and local singer, Rebecca Harkin and her band will be playing at the function.
“I’ve also got some great memorabilia to give away, including a fully signed Champions League Celtic jersey from Tony Watt.
“Paul McGrath has also promised to send me some stuff up so credit to them. Although they couldn’t make it up on the day, they’ve offered their help.
“It’s all for a good cause so hopefully, we can get as many people to attend as possible.
“So if you have nothing planned for Sunday get down and show your support!”
Tickets for Sunday’s match are priced at £10 and £5 for Under-16s and O.A.Ps which can be purchased at the gate. It’ll be an event not to be missed!
Check out the ‘Sunday Journal’ for full match preview and Barry Molloy’s thoughts on his 10 year association with Derry City!