INISHOWEN LEAGUE Secretary, Diarmuid O’Brien insists there has been ‘tremendous interest’ and ‘growing excitement’ as the Inishowen football fraternity await Derry City’s arrival in Buncrana tonight.
And with Buncrana’s Mark Timlin and Carndonagh’s Cathal Farren and Sam Todd all representing Kenny Shiel’s troops this season, Mr O’Brien says it’s added to the interest in tonight’s historic occasion as City welcome league newcomers, Limerick to their temporary base.
A woman stopped me outside Maginn Park the other day and told me she can’t wait to hear the roar from inside under the floodlights on a Friday night, so I think everyone is looking forward to it.Diarmuid O’Brien
With League of Ireland Football expected to be hosted in Buncrana for the duration of the 2017 Airtricity Premier Division campaign, Mr O’Brien believes football fans from across the Inishowen peninsula will come and lend their support to Shiels’ young side.
“I’d go as far to say it’s a huge occasion for the football fraternity in Inishowen, not just Buncrana,” said Mr O’Brien.
“There’s tremendous interest in the game. I know people who are coming from Malin, Moville, Culdaff Cardonagh and Clonmany and God knows where else.
“So it’s a big occasion for the soccer fraternity in the whole of Inishowen. A woman stopped me outside Maginn Park the other day and told me she can’t wait to hear the roar from inside under the floodlights on a Friday night, so I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
The Inishowen town has a long-standing connection with the Brandywell club which dates back to the pre- World War II war period when the late Celtic legend, Hugh ‘Dick’ Doherty (1939) - probably Buncrana’s most high profile footballer - represented the ‘Candy Stripes’.
Before that John ‘Teddy’ Smith had played for Derry in 1933 and finished as top scorer with 12 goals in his only year at the club.
“There’s that connection with Derry and Buncrana as well and to be honest the town of Buncrana is going to benefit from it. So it’s a big occasion for everybody and we’re all looking forward to it.”
The ground has undergone improvements to bring it into line with the FAI’s Premier Division licencing requirements with the installation of seats in the stand and some emergency lighting. And Mr O’Brien is hoping it will have a lasting impact on the Inishowen League.
“We’re proud of the facilities we have. We’ve worked hard to get what we have there at Maginn Park. We’ve ambitions of holding school boy internationals there and if we can show we can host Derry City in the League of Ireland for a full season then I think that opens up a whole lot of avenues for the league as well.
“There’s been good cooperation between ourselves and Derry City and while some of the work had to be left for this week it’s all coming together and the seats and stand looks very well and the pitch is in good condition.
“I know Kenny wasn’t overly happy but for this time of the year I think it’s in tremendous nick.
“Derry will have all their stewards down and the Guards will have a presence but we don’t expect any bother at all and I’m looking forward to the occasion.
“We have a good rapport with Derry City, as we do with Finn Harps, in preparing a pathway for our young players coming from our academy. Derry have Mark Timlin in their squad who came up through the Inishowen Youth and Schoolboys Academy. He played for Buncrana Hearts. There’s a massive interest when you can relate to a player like that and you’ll come watch him play.
“In the background you have Sam Todd and Cathal Farren from Carndonagh who both played with our Inishowen Academy squads and progressed through the ranks at Derry. So it’s fantastic for us to see those boys continue their development. For me to se ethem progress to Legaue of Ireland standard is great, I can’t wait!”