DECLAN DEVINE believes Derry City midfielder, Ciaron Harkin can become a fans' favourite at the Brandywell club after the Creggan man produced a man of the match performance in the opening night victory over UCD.
The 23 year-old made his third senior appearance for his hometown club against the First Division champions as he begun his second spell with the Candy Stripes in the 3-0 win at a packed Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Harkin, known affectionately as 'Jackie', set up David Parkhouse for the opening goal and capped a typically energetic performance with an inch perfect assist for debutante, Eoghan Stokes' goal in the second half which cemented the win.
And his tenacious,'infectious' display earned rave reviews from both Devine and UCD boss, Collie O'Neill in their respective post-match interviews.
"I liked Harkin, he's a really good player, very clever and is able to spot danger quickly when he's not in possession of the ball," said O'Neill who admits his side suffered a reality check on their first return to the top flight since 2014. "He does a really good job in front of that back four."
Devine also singled the ex-Coleraine man out for special praise, and predicted a lengthy career in the red and white Candy Stripes for the player who really set the tone for Derry's comprehensive win.
"In my opinion 'Jackie' can be a Derry City player for the next 10 or 12 years," offered the City boss. "That's if he doesn't go to a higher level. He loves the place and the people should love him. He would've walked on broken glass to come to this club. When we were negotiating with the player it was one of the easiest negotiations you'll ever have. 'Jackie do you want to come to Derry? 'Yes Decky I'm coming to Derry' and that was it! Done and dusted.
"He's going to be a real fans' favourite but ultimately he's a brilliant person. He's infectious to the rest of his teammates and he's hungry to do well. He's such a nice fella off the pitch and can be a horrible wee man on it. He just epitomises what I like in a player
"He epitomises everything we want at this club. He's brave, committed and he has a good family. He impresses not only just the staff and supporters but the players love him to bits."