PAT FENLON reckons Paul Hegarty faces a daunting task should he be offered the Derry City manager’s job on a permanent basis given the club’s difficulty to attract top quality players to Brandywell Stadium.
As a former Derry City manager, the current Shamrock Rovers boss knows all about the problems facing the Brandywell club and claims he felt sorry for Peter Hutton who was sacked last Tuesday with six games remaining in the 2015 season.
Fenlon echoed the sentiments of City chairman, Philip O’Doherty who claimed last week it was difficult to attract managers to Derry City, issuing a warning to Hutton’s permanent replacement.
Since Felix Healy guided the club to the league title in 1997, Derry have had nine managers - three locals in Kevin Mahon, Declan Devine and Hutton; four Dubliners in Dermot Keely, Stephen Kenny, Fenlon and Roddy Collins; Gavin Dykes from Sligo and Glasgow’s John Robertson.
Ballindrait man Hegarty, who partnered Hutton in midfield in that title winning side 18 years ago, has spoken about his desire to manage the club long term and he certainly increased his chances of succeeding Hutton with a morale boosting victory over Fenlon’s Rovers side on Friday night.
The caretaker boss will surely be in pole position to take the reigns should he guide the club to Premier Division safety in the five remaining league fixtures of the campaign.
Derry is a club you want in the Premier Division. It’s a big club, it has big support, a good ground with a good atmosphere so it’s important they stay up.Pat Fenlon
However, Fenlon warned that it will prove a ‘difficult’ test for whoever is appointed as the next Derry City manager.
“It’s always difficult for a manager here,” said Fenlon. “It’s disappointing for Peter (Hutton) because he is a good lad and he’s been around here for a long time and has given great service to the club.
“But that’s football and Paul (Hegarty) has been around the place and knows what it’s all about as well.
“Like the chairman said recently, it’s difficult to attract players from outside of Derry - that’s a problem at times,” added the Dubliner who spent five months as Derry boss in 2007 before handing in his resignation.
“They have some very good young players but when Peter lost Rory Patterson it was a big loss for him.
“When you take that many goals out of any team it’s going to be difficult to replace because there’s not many around.”
Vital Derry beat the drop
Fenlon is confident Hegarty has what it takes to see Derry over the line this season and secure Premier Division survival. And he claims it’s vital the ‘Candy Stripes’ remain in the top flight for the good of League of Ireland football.
“It’s a big three points for Derry the way the results have gone at the weekend,” he said of Derry’s victory over the Hoops.
“Paul (Hegarty) probably thinks they need another couple of wins to be safe and that should do them.
“Derry is a club you want in the Premier Division. It’s a big club, it has big support, a good ground with a good atmosphere so it’s important they stay up.”
Hegarty’s appointment as caretaker boss had the desired effect on Friday night as they recorded the victory following a workman-like and battling display against Fenlon’s star studded side - Dean Jarvis’ first Derry City goal proving decisive.
It was a disappointing result for Fenlon who felt his side had dominated goalscoring chances throughout as their European qualification aspirations took a hit.
“I’m disappointed with the result,” added the Dubliner. “I felt we played well and created the only chances in the game bar the one in the last few minutes that they scored from.
“We’re disappointed because we limited Derry to very little opportunities and then we switch off for a set piece and got done.
“We have two massive home games coming up, however and need to bounce back quickly. Bray at home on Tuesday and them Galway on Friday and we have to go and get six points.
“We have to make sure we get that European spot. As the prizemoney is so little within the league Europe is massive now with that prizemoney.
“If you can manage to get through a round like we did this year it’s another couple of hundred grand that makes a massive difference to running the club.”