MICHAEL O’Neill’s impending departure from Shamrock Rovers after this Thursday night’s Europa League game against Spurs, has again fuelled speculation that the Premier Division champions want Brandywell boss, Stephen Kenny, as their new manager.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Not for the first time, Kenny has been linked with a return to his roots in Tallaght, but given that he remains under contact on Foyleside and is currently attempting to build a team for next season’s busy campaign, it will be interesting to see if the local club is contacted in relation to the speculation.
But one thing is clear, the vacancy will have no shortage of applicants - particularly from across the Channel - where a plethora of recognised names are currently out of full-time employment.
However, sources in Dublin have suggested that Sligo boss, Paul Cook, is considered one of the local favourites for the position while others have pointed to personalities such as Mark McGhee, Sammy McIlroy and Steve Coppell as possible runners.
Kenny, of course, is understood to have turned down an approach before O’Neill was appointed and while he was delighted with Derry City’s overall performance in the club’s return to the Airtricity Premier Division, his budget is expected to be cut again for the 2012 campaign given the Brandywell club’s poor attendance figures last season.
No doubt, additional names will be thrown into the ring over the next few days with Rovers, thanks to their Europa League qualifying success, now in a position to dominate League of Ireland football in the seasons to come.
Meanwhile, one of Derry City’s first competitions in the New Year will be the Setanta Sports Cup campaign, a competition which brings the annual North v. South challenge with the “Candy Stripes” representing the “South.”
This season the competition will be a straight forward knockout tournament with Derry not included as a seeded club and, therefore, playing in the preliminary round.
And Derry’s preliminary round opponents come from either - Glentoran, Lisburn Distillery, Cliftonville or Portadown as Linfield and Crusaders are the seeded teams from the Irish League - with St. Pat’s, Bohemians and Bray Wanderers accompanying Derry in the opening round. Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers the seeded club from the Airtricity League.
The tournament will be officially launched in the Aviva Stadium on January 25th next when the preliminary round draw will be made.
And the opening matches in the preliminary round will be played on February 13th and February 20th, with matches played on a home and away basis.
The winners of the preliminary round ties will then join the four seeded clubs to decide the winners of the 2012 Setanta Cup, again in a knockout format, played on a home and away basis.
Danny to remain
It would appear that Derry City left-back, Daniel Lafferty will not, after all be joining Brighton & Hove Albion following the player’s trial at the Championship club last week.
But while Brighton failed to make an offer for the talented left-back following his visit, Gus Poyet’s club suggested that they will be “monitoring the player’s progress” next season.
Lafferty, who has a year of his contract left to run, had also been interesting Derby County before he sustained a hamstring injury when playing for the “Rams” in a practise match a few weeks ago.
Huddersfield Town were another club understood to be interested in having the player over for a similar trial but it would appear that nothing has happened on that front at the moment.
The player, however, remains committed to the Brandywell club and while obviously disappointed that a possible move to England and Brighton did not materialise, he is keen continue his improvement at his home town club in next season’s campaign.
And last year’s commanding centre-half, Stewart Greacen, is now understood to be on the top Sligo Rover’s Christmas shopping list.
Last year’s Premier Division runners-up and FAI Cup champions, are believed to have already added Dundalk striker, Mark Quigley to their recent signings of Danny North (from St. Pat’s) while Romauld Boco, the pacey Benin international who represented the club a few seasons ago, has agreed to return to the West for next season’s campaign.