THERE WILL be no room for sentiment when Derry City striker, Enda Curran, lines out against his former club Athlone Town at Brandywell Stadium tomorrow night.
The 21 year-old Galwegian spent a brief, but successful period with Athlone last season when he helped them to the League of Ireland First Division title under the stewardship of Roddy Collins.
And following Collins and his son, Roddy Jr., to Brandywell as one of the Dubliner’s first signings last November, Curran has settled in well on Foyleside and opened his goalscoring account with the winning strike against Sligo Rovers at Brandywell on April 4th.
In fact, when the 2014 league fixtures were released, the Athlone match was the first Curran looked for and he’s expecting a tough test against the team currently propping up the Premier Division table after six consecutive league defeats.
“It should be interesting,” said Curran. “I loved my time at Athlone. I was only there for a few months but I really liked it. So hopefully their supporters won’t be too harsh on me,” he laughed.
“I was looking for this game straight away when the fixtures came out - this one and the return fixture in Lissywoollen too.
“Athlone are a good side and they kept a lot of the lads from last year, apart from obviously myself and Roddy Jr. So they’re a good squad and we know what they’re going to do and what they can bring.”
Making no excuses for an indifferent start to the campaign, Curran believes the ‘Candy Stripes’ can finish the last series of first round fixtures strongly, starting with three points against this weekend’s opponents.
“We’ve had a couple of hard fixtures so far this season but it’s a young squad and we came out of those fixtures having gained a lot of experience. We can push on from here and we’ll certainly learn from the last six games.”
Despite Athlone’s poor start to the campaign, Curran knows Mick Cooke’s men could prove dangerous opposition as they go in search of their first win and he knows more than most about the club’s most influential players.
“There’s no weak teams in this league but we’ve a strong squad here and you’d think that we’ve played the top six teams in the league,” he continued. “So it’s up to us to push on but we will just approach the Athlone game like any other game.
“It’s not going to make any difference whether it’s Man United or Athlone Town, we’re going to approach every game the same way and hopefully we can get three points and kick on.
“Mick Cooke got Drogheda into the cup final last year so we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be an easy game.
“They’ve got good players like Philly Gorman who is always going to get goals - I think he’s got four or five already this season.
“They have a lot of good players like James O’Brien who was excellent for us last year. There’s no doubt that they will go on to become good Premier Division players too.
“Like myself, we’ve got a lot to prove in the Premier Division and we’re still only learning about this division so it should be interesting.
“But we should have the squad to go and take the next couple of games in our stride and pick up the points from there.”
Former Salthill Devon striker, Curran was signed by Collins as a utility player and has already been deployed in a central midfield berth and as both a winger and striker so far this season.
Curran is fully aware of the importance of utilising the entire squad this season therefore he’s willing to play wherever and whenever he’s needed.
“I’m just hoping to get more and more goals but at the end of the day it doesn’t really make a difference to me who scores. If I have to run 50 yards and square it to someone and he scores to get us three points then I don’t mind that. In saying that it’s always nice to score and hopefully I can get a few more.
“Roddy signed me as a utility player because I can play through the middle or play up front but once I’m in the team I’m happy.
“I played in the middle of the park when I was Salthill when I was coming up through the ranks so I’m happy to play there if he needs me to.
“We know it’s a squad game. Roddy picks the team based on the opposition and if you’re not playing you just have to understand.
“I worked under him in Athlone and he certainly got the best out of me. ‘Rod’ knows what he’s doing so there’s no reason to panic.”
Derry are without centre half, Ryan McBride who suffered concussion during Monday’s defeat to Dundalk while Barry McNamee remains sidelined with an ongoing knee injury.
Mick Cooke heads into this game without Derek Prendergast who was sent off in Monday night’s defeat to Bohs while Aidan Collins also missed out.
Neil Harney (dead leg), Alan Byrne (cracked ribs), James O’Brien (knee), Sean Byrne (back) and Niall Scullion (illness) are all expected to take late fitness tests, however, Stephen Quigley returns after sitting out Monday’s game due to suspension.