KENNY SHIELS described the capture of exciting winger, Mark Timlin as a ‘marquee signing’ who can help Derry City bridge the gap between the top two clubs in the country.
The Derry City boss had tried in vain to convince Timlin to remain at Brandywell when he took over the managerial reins at the end of the 2015 season.
However, the Buncrana man already had his heart set on a move to St Patrick’s Athletic where he went on to score 10 goals last year.
Shiels was delighted to engineer a return to Derry City for the popular Inishowen man and is looking forward to getting the best out of the talented midfielder next year.
“It’s been drawn out a bit but we’ve been able to negotiate and get him back on a one-year deal with a second year option,” he confirmed.
“I want to have young vibrant players about the club. This is a big plus for the club and it’s positive for me because he hasn’t worked with me before.
“It gives us an opportunity for us to develop a relationship where we get the best out of him. He’s 22 years of age and you have Josh (Daniels) on the other side. It’s amazing the amount of young talent we have coming through.
“And he’s got goals in him too,” added the Derry boss who also re-signed young defender, Scott Whiteside to add to Harry Monaghan’s welcome return to the club this week.
It’s been a good week on the transfer front for Shiels following the recent departures of Niclas Vemmelund and Conor McCormack.
“I think it’s a marquee signing in my view because he fits into what we’re about. I tried to keep him when he was here last and wasn’t successful.
I think it’s a marquee signing in my view because he fits into what we’re about. I tried to keep him when he was here last and wasn’t successful.Kenny Shiels
“Hopefully he’s coming here at a good time as we’re in Europe which is great.
“Other clubs are spending money but if we can manage to do the impossible again and stay within touching distance it would be great.
“We’re well aware that Limerick, St Pat’s, Shamrock Rovers, the top two, Sligo Rovers, are all investing heavily because of the European situation and we’re still using the same philosophy to grow the club.”
With Aaron Barry’s future at the club in doubt, there is currently a shortage of defenders at the club ahead of the 2017 campaign and Shiels admits defensive cover is a priority.
“I need an experienced defender,” he confirmed. “We need a defender in. That’s a priority. We’ve lost Nico and it’s a big hole to fill. We’re waiting on Aaron Barry and I don’t know what way that’s going to drop.”
Timlin returns home
It may well feel like Timlin’s returning home in more ways than one, should Derry City opt to play their league fixtures at Maginn Park - a stone’s throw from the winger’s family home in Buncrana.
The 22 year-old, who spent last season with St Patrick’s Athletic, signed a deal which could keep potentially keep him at the club until the end of the 2018 season. He’s excited about his return to Foyleside and is hoping to improve as a player under the stewardship of Kenny Shiels.
“I’m delighted to be back,” said Timlin. “I’m just glad that it’s done because it’s been going on for a few weeks since the season ended really, so I’m delighted it’s finally done.
“There’s been a general bit of excitement this past few weeks and it’s good to see that you’re wanted back. At the start I wasn’t sure whether people would want me back after leaving.
“At the time I left I thought it was the right move for me but it never really worked out,” he explained. “I’m delighted to be back and hopefully we can now push on next season. “I’ve kept in touch with the majority of players and I’m quite close with a few of them. So coming in today (Wednesday) felt like I’ve never been away really.”
The midfielder, who left Derry at the end of the 2015 campaign for ‘personal reasons’, insists he doesn’t have any regrets about the move to Dublin. However, he’s glad to be back around familiar faces at the club.
“From the way the boys have been talking about working under Kenny it was brilliant last year.”
Derry had the upper hand in the three meetings with St Pat’s last season with two wins at Richmond Park and a 1-1 draw at Brandywell. And Timlin certainly liked what he saw from the ‘Candy Stripes’ and is excited about working under Shiels whom he believes can help him achieve his personal targets.
“Playing against them last season was really difficult given their style of play and their fitness levels which were far higher than what we had.
“So I’ve got a lot to learn as well and hopefully I can improve over the next season or so under Kenny. “I’ve set targets for myself for this season and hopefully I can achieve them. We’re doing a lot of work with Pearse (Lafferty) in the gym. So hopefully I can get faster and stronger in this off season which will only improve me for next season. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.
“I was disappointed with last season but I still scored 10 goals. Going down there (St Pat’s) I wanted to score far more than that so hopefully this year I can cement myself in the team and properly push on.”
Saints boss, Liam Buckley deployed Timlin through the middle and on the flanks last season and while he prefers playing on the right, he’s just hoping to do enough to earn him a regular spot in the City starting line-up.
“My preferred position would be on the right, coming inside. I scored a lot of my goals at Derry from coming off the right wing. From talking to Kenny I think we have an understanding on that as well.”
On the possibility of playing at Maginn Park next year, the former Buncrana Hearts lad said it would be ‘interesting’.
“It would be kind of weird for me because I would probably know the majority of people in the crowd which would add a bit more pressure on me. I live literally right beside Maginn but I don’t know what’s going to happen to be honest. It would be interesting,” he smiled.