DERRY CITY midfielder, Barry McNamee insists his brief flirtation with Nottingham Forest last month has whet his appetite ahead of the ‘Candy Stripes’ 2013 Airtricity Premier Division campaign.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Ramelton lad was invited on a week-long trial at the Midlands club last month and while a move failed to materialise, the experience has fuelled his desire to make a cross-Channel switch - when the time is right of course.
And having watched with interest as Stephen McLaughlin sealed his dream move to the English Championship club last week, McNamee is optimistic he will eventually get another chance to play at the top level.
However, having just made his breakthrough season with Derry last year, the player is prepared to bide his time and gain both valuable European and League of Ireland experience.
The young Co. Donegal man turns 21 years-old next month, yet his displays last year have shown maturity way beyond his tender years and he’s more than happy to see out the two year contract he signed at the end of last season.
“It was a great experience going over to Nottingham for the week,” continued the midfielder.
“The change in managers at the time I’m sure didn’t help my cause any but I’m not disappointed that a move didn’t happen,” he added.
“I’m just looking forward to the start of the season now with Derry City and, hopefully, I can get another chance to shine.
“Maybe if there’s more interest in me in the future I’ll get another chance to get that dream move.
“Experiencing the full-time professional set-up makes you more determined to make it,” he continued.
“And knowing that I could fit in and play at that level makes me more determined to go out and get more games under my belt and get the experience.
“If I get another chance hopefully I can take it next time.”
Conveyor belt of talent
McLaughlin’s transfer to Forest, which is believed to have netted City in the region of £160,000 plus add-ons, was the latest in a long line of ex-Candy Stripes who have made the leap to Premier League and Championship clubs in England.
However, Brandywell boss, Declan Devine recently advised young Irish players not to rush into securing trials with English clubs and McNamee understands he’s at the perfect club to nurture his undoubted talent.
“I just take things as they come and whatever is to happen will happen. I took the chance that presented itself with a trial at Forest but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen for me.
“I’ll just get on with things at Derry and I’m happy enough playing away and, hopefully, we can challenge for the league this season.
“It’s obviously every young footballer’s ambition to get over to England and train and play full-time for a top club and I’m no different to anybody else.
“There’s a big intensity difference in the training and obviously with the players training full-time, they’re all fitter and stronger but ability-wise there’s not too much of a difference,” he observed.
“There’s a lot of players in the League of Ireland who could make the step up to that level if they put in the work.”
McNamee could return to the City Ground quicker than anticipated with Derry currently negotiating a possible pre-season training camp at Forest’s new state-of-the-art facilities at Wilford Lane and the Ramelton lad is excited about the prospect.
“We were back at training last weekend and we’re back in this weekend again and we’ll be starting properly.
“I haven’t heard any confirmation of where we’re going to on a training camp but I know there is talk about going to Nottingham Forest and using their facilities which would be great.”
McNamee, a student at Letterkenny IT, came to the fore during the final 10 weeks of the 2012 season and having claimed an FAI Cup winners’ medal last November at the end of his first campaign in senior football, the Co. Donegal lad is excited about what the forthcoming campaign holds for him.
“Hopefully I can begin where I left off this season and push on, improve our league form and challenge for the title and everything else we’re in as well.
“The last six or seven weeks of the season we were flying and the season probably ended a bit too soon for us. Once we got all our players back from injury we proved we could beat anyone.
“Obviously losing Stephen (McLaughlin) is a big blow but there’s three or four quality players coming in and maybe one or two more yet. Declan is building a squad now which will be capable of challenging for the league.”
Before he can concentrate fully on the start of the 2013 campaign, McNamee has academic matters to attend as he completes his third year Sports and Business student at Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
“I’ve a couple of exams this week and next week so when I get those over with I’ll be able to focus fully on Derry and getting into shape in pre-season,” he concluded.