CONOR McDermott’s stock has risen considerably during the course of this season as the versatile midfielder emerges as an important player in Kenny Shiels’ squad.
In the absence of suspended skipper, Ryan McBride, the 18 year-old has slotted seamlessly into the right-back position with Niclas Vemmelund occupying the central defensive role.
Derry have kept two clean sheets in their last two league matches with both McDermott and Vemmelund impressing in both matches.
McDermott’s played at right back, left back and in a central midfield role this season and has shown great maturity for his young years as he’s eased his way into Shiels’ squad.
And, on Friday night, McDermott, who interestingly was eligible for selection for Derry City’s Foyle Cup side this week, once again proved a valuable asset in the Derry defence.
In fact, the teenager was one of several contenders for the ‘Man of the Match’ accolade, give to the superb Conor McCormack, for his high-energy performance.
With McBride ready to return to action against Sligo this Friday night, McDermott is set to lose out, but he’s just happy to be a part of the first team squad this year.
Rory Patterson’s ninth goal of the season, in the 10th minute of Friday’s match at Dalymount, gave Derry a vital victory as they closed the gap on second placed Cork to just three points.
And McDermott was delighted they managed to hold on for the win in the end, holding off a battling Bohs side.
“A clean-sheet and a win at Bohemians is something you would have taken before the game,” he said afterwards
I’m enjoying right-back at the minute because you can get forward and I like defending as well, so it suits me.Conor McDermott
“Bohs is a tough place to come and it’s never easy at Dalymount; it was tough when we played them at the Brandywell.
“I felt just like that game earlier in the season - we were on top in the first half but in the second half they came out at us and started to hit a lot of high balls into the box. But I felt we did well and deserved to win.”
McDermott has been deployed in several positions this season and plays mostly in central midfield or on the right wing for the reserves. But he’s willing to play wherever he’s needed.
“Versatility has been a big part of my game, even when I was younger, but I would play anywhere,” he added. “If Kenny (Shiels) wants to play me up front that won’t be a problem. But I’m enjoying right-back at the minute because you can get forward and I like defending as well, so it suits me. Look (Ryan) McBride is back next week and, obviously, he’s going to come back into the side as he’s the captain of the club. If that means I miss out, then, yes, I’ll be disappointed but I’m young and I’ll work hard at training, bide my time and, hopefully, another chance will come. We’ll wait and see what team the manager picks,” he added.
“After the Dundalk game we were obviously down, but we have lifted ourselves and bounced back well.
“Sligo beat us 2-0 at home a few months ago, so we want revenge now and look to put things right. We are playing with confidence at the minute so, hopefully, we can get a result.
“It’s great playing for Derry City,” he continued. “The team is also doing very well so it makes things easier. Last year, we were struggling a little bit and if I had of come into the team it would have been a lot harder to play. However, this year, as I said, the team is doing well, so long may that continue.”
Bohemians boss Keith Long expressed his disappointment with his side’s performance and admitted the ‘Gypsies’ had been out-worked on their own pitch.
“I’m disappointed in the manner in which we lost,” he said. “I thought we were second best for large periods of the first half, Derry played particularly well I felt, they are a well organised team and they work extremely hard.
“And I thought we didn’t work as hard as them in the first half and we spoke about it at half-time. They were probably a little bit lucky with the goal, but it was decent build-up play before that. I’m just really disappointed with our performance. “We probably didn’t deserve anything from the game on the balance of it.”
It was City’s first win at the Dublin venue since 2013 when Celtic’s Michael Duffy netted both goals in a 2-0 victory over the Gypsies. And the vital win took the Candy Stripes five points clear of fourth placed Shamrock Rovers. Shiels will now be eyeing a third win in a row in Sligo this Friday night.