Derry City fixtures in doubt due to international call-ups

Derry City's Ben Doherty is one of several members of Kenny Shiels' squad called up for international duty, throwing games against Dundalk and Cork City in doubt.
Derry City's Ben Doherty is one of several members of Kenny Shiels' squad called up for international duty, throwing games against Dundalk and Cork City in doubt.

DERRY CITY’s upcoming SSE Airtricity League fixtures against Dundalk and Cork City have been thrown into doubt due to international call-ups.

The Candy Stripes are pencilled in to play their re-arranged league clash with Dundalk at Brandywell Stadium on Monday, March 19th before travelling to Cork the following Friday, March 23rd.

Since I’ve been here, in the 20 games against the three Dublin clubs we’ve lost once and that was late in the game with a penalty.

Kenny Shiels

However, given a host of Derry City’s first team panel have been called up for international duty that week, those games are likely to be rescheduled.

Conor McDermott, Jamie McDonagh and Ben Doherty have been selected for Northern Ireland U21’s UEFA Euro U21 double header against Spain and Iceland while Eoin Toal will be in action for the U19s.

And Rory Hale and Ronan Curtis will be involved in Noel King’s Republic of Ireland U21 home Euro qualifier against Azerbaijan.

While the postponements are yet to be confirmed, Kenny Shiels believes it’s an ‘honour’ to have so many internationals in the current Derry City set-up.

“It doesn’t cause us problems,” said Shiels. “It’s more of an honour to have these young boys here. And to be the only club in Ireland that it affects is credit to the work being done.

“We want to make sure young players get a chance to develop their career here and go further afield. That’s what we are about and Derry City is certainly a club held in that regard.

“Derry develops players and sells them to clubs in England. With that comes international status and we’re proud of the players.”

Meanwhile, Shiels’ team face two huge fixtures in the space of four days starting with Friday’s visit to Shamrock Rovers, followed by the long awaited return to Brandywell Stadium where they meet Limerick next Monday night.

And while the City boss refuses to entertain thoughts of Monday night’s homecoming, he’s hoping he can continue his impressive record against Dublin clubs since taking charge of the Candy Stripes two years ago.

Indeed, under Shiels, Derry have lost just once in 20 meetings against the three Dublin clubs over the past two seasons, but he expects that record to be tested in Tallaght.

“Since I’ve been here, in the 20 games against the three Dublin clubs we’ve lost once and that was late in the game with a penalty.

“But you just can’t keep going on beating teams and beating them. You have the winds of change and these things happen in football where you have cycles. We want to continue to do our best and hopefully we can go down there and give them a game and see how far it takes us.”

The Candy Stripes travel in confidence following a morale boosting 1-0 victory over Bohemians in Dalymount in their last outing,

Ironically, the enforced week-long rest has left them in a good position going into tonight’s crunch encounter with the Hoops.

“It’s good we achieved that and got ourselves up and running at last. But Shamrock Rovers have great players.

“You look at what they’ve brought in. They have players like (Sean) Kavanagh and Ronan Finn, Greg Bolger from Cork. They have quality players all round the team.”

Despite Rovers’ attacking threat, Shiels insists he will go seeking consecutive wins.

“Every game you prepare for you go and try and win but there’s more than one way of winning.”

Shiels must plan without injured defenders, Gavin Peers and Armin Aganovich while midfielders, David Hopkirk, Chris Turner and striker John Cofie are also ruled out.