MICHAEL Hegarty and Pearse Lafferty are, according to Roddy Collins, the “best signings” Derry City have made this season!
Hegarty may well captain Irish League club, Coleraine, but his “real job” these days centres on his role as the Brandywell club’s physiotherapist.
Lafferty is also part of the club’s medical team, acting as Derry athletic development coach and both are considered by the Derry boss as integral performers in the “Candy Stripes” set-up.
“We came through a major battle in Tallaght Stadium last weekend, yet our players didn’t sustain any injuries,” declared Collins.
“Yes, we shipped a few knocks and some left with bruises, but there was no soft tissue injuries and for me that’s testimony to the work of our magnificent medical team which includes Pearse and Michael,” added the Dubliner.
“They’ve been absolutely brilliant and in my view, our medical team and, indeed, our youth development coaching team, are the most important people at the club, it’s not the manager or the current playing staff, it’s down to those who keep us fit and, of course, those who assist the development of young players who make it through the ranks and into the first team squad.
“Michael and Pearse are the best signings this club has made this season, make no mistake about that.
“The players hold them in the highest regard and they are really impressed having been working with them since we returned for pre-season training.”
And while he openly admitted that he hasn’t played a leading role in the Derry City Youth Academy, Collins felt that while his focus had to be fully concentrated on first team affairs at this stage of the campaign, he was impressed with what he has seen at underage level. “Just like the medical team, our youth development coaches never seem to get the recognition they deserve either.
“From my point of view, I’ve been up to my eyes in getting things sorted for the start of the season and my only involvement in the Youth Academy has been watching them train. “To be honest, I haven’t seen them play in any competitive games but I’m also a great believer in not attempting to fix something that isn’t broken,” added Collins.
“Obviously, I’ve spoken with the coaches and, at the moment, I’ve basically left it to them to send me up players who they feel are ready to make the step into the first team panel and possibly challenge for places.
“And I’ve no problem whatsoever in throwing in teenagers who, we believe, are up to the challenge of making their senior debuts.
“If they impress, then they will remain in the first team and if they are taking the place of a senior player who may have occupied a first team place for quite some time, then that has to be viewed as progress,” insisted Collins.
“I’m delighted to see young lads moved up to train with the first team squad, play in practise matches and the first team coaches would take it from there.”
Meanwhile, Derry City’s Chief Executive, Mr. Sean Barrett, has appealed to fans to support the club’s “Cityview” match day programme this season.
“It’s amazing that our Programme Committee have remained in place for over 10 years now and while many may take their effort for granted, that’s certainly not the case as far as the Board of Directors is concerned,” said Mr. Barrett.
“The club receives vitally important finance every season from programme sales and I would appeal to our supporters to buy a programme and help boost that source of income.
“The programme price remains at a very competitive £2 - it hasn’t increased in price in 10 years - and I think our supporters will find it a very interesting read.
“We have a hard-working voluntary team who raise vital funds for the club and while last season’s sales were disappointing, we’re hopeful that our supporters will respond this year if only to give the programme team a much needed boost,” he concluded.