Rory just wants to get started

Rory Patterson. (DER0614PG090)
Rory Patterson. (DER0614PG090)

It’s snowing outside, I rattle the letterbox a few times and Rory Patterson answers the door. “Well, are you going to come in?,” he jokes.

Just before the interview starts, Rory offers me a cup of tea and with it so cold outside, it’s just what’s needed.

Whether he likes to admit it or not, 29 year-old Patterson is a talismanic figure for Derry City F.C.

The Strabane born footballer is without question one of, if not the best, striker in the League of Ireland. Last season he finished with 24 goals in all competitions and was top goal-scorer in the Premier Division with 18 strikes.

“Obviously it’s nice to finish top goal scorer but I would have much rather we won the league or reached a cup final. It’s my job to score goals and that’s what I try to do but football is about much more than that for me - like all footballers I want to be successful and win as many matches as possible,” said Patterson.

Patterson joined Derry City in 2012 and he couldn’t have asked for a better competitive debut; he scored a hat-trick against Lisburn Distillery in the Setanta Sports Cup.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last two seasons with Derry City,” said Patterson.

“However, the new manager [Roddy Collins] is working really hard to get things right in preparation for the forthcoming season so I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Patterson only knew of new boss Roddy Collins by reputation before was revealed as Declan Devine’s successor but the former F.C. United player described Collins as a “passionate” man who knows the game inside out.

“Everything about pre-season training has been great this year. The decision to make the Vale Centre in Greysteel our base was a brilliant one.

“The last few seasons we would have been training in several different locations. Sometimes we would have been meeting up at the Brandywell to go training in Strabane but this year is great. Everyone knows where we are going and when they have to be there.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the training facilities. The weather has been a bit of a pain in the backside the last few weeks because we have had to do a lot of our training inside and a few of the pre-season fixtures have been cancelled but there’s very little anyone can do about that.”

In preparation for the 2014 Airtricity League Premier Division campaign, Roddy Collins has brought in two strikers to strengthen his squad.

Former Celtic youth player, Mark Stewart joined the club a few weeks ago and one of Collins’ first signings was Athlone Town forward, Enda Curran, who played under Collins in the First Division last season.

“There’s so much competition in the team this year and only today [Friday] I read on the back page of ‘The Derry Journal’ that Roddy is interested in bringing in another striker.

“Competition for places is always a good thing because it keeps everyone on their toes and ensures no-one can take anything for granted.”

Patterson said he is confident this year’s Derry City team can challenge for honours and said he was delighted with the way in which the whole team was starting to shape up.

“One of the best things about the squad this year is the blend between youth and experience.

“Cliff Byrne joining the club is a massive plus. Cliff is a really experienced defender and it’ll be great for the likes of Shane McEleney and Ryan McBride.

“Then there was the signings of both David Elebert and Aaron Barry - they are great players too.

“Then in midfield, you’ve the likes of Fats [Patrick McEleney], Barry McNamee, Barry Molloy, Danny Ventre and Kevin Deery is still to come back too.

“The team is really strong this season and there’s a great atmosphere about the place. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and I think that that’s largely down to Roddy and Peter Hutton [assistant manager].

“Roddy and Peter know exactly what it is they are trying to do. They have told everyone, whether they be staff or players, what is expected of them.

“That means that everyone knows what they are doing. The level of organisation this season has been brilliant so far.”

Derry City’s first match of the 2014 Airtricity League Premier Division campaign is against Shamrock Rovers in the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin on March 8.

Patterson believes along with Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers will all prove difficult teams to beat this season.

“Playing Rovers in Tallaght is tough but we’ve done well there in the past.

“St. Pat’s, Sligo and Dundalk will all do well this season but if we just concern ourselves with our game then I think we will turn a few heads in 2014 too,” said Patterson, smiling.