CONOR McDERMOTT is anxious to make up for lost time with Derry City as he looks forward to a new, exciting era under the management of Declan Devine.
The 21 year-old Derry City defender missed the final three months of the 2018 season due to a troublesome hip flexor injury which blighted his campaign.
He admits he was ‘demoralised’ and ‘heartbroken’ to miss the EA Sports Cup Final having played in every round up until his final game of the season - the semi-final win over Sligo Rovers - not to mention Northern Ireland U21’s historic UEFA Euro ‘19 qualifying victory over Spain in Albacete.
The N. Ireland U21 international finally underwent surgery the night before the Cup Final on September 8th and has been busy in the gym since as he continues his rehabilitation programme.
And so the Culmore lad isn’t short on motivation as he looks forward to working under new City boss, Devine.
“I’m just looking forward to getting playing and kicking a ball again,” said the player who was at Brandywell on Monday to launch the new 90th anniversary Derry City jersey.
“I’m feeling really good and I’m almost back on the pitch. I’ve done everything I can to get back and get myself right and I’ll continue to do that.
“I’ve worked with Decky with the U21s a couple of years ago and I like the way he is. He’s a serious man who gets things done and I’m just looking forward to getting started now.
“I’m looking forward to working with him again. He’s a Derry man through and through and his staff, Paddy (McCourt), Kevin (Deery) and Marty (McCann) are all Derry boys and all love the club. We’re all going to give it our all this year and see where it takes us.”
McDermott is under contract until the end of the 2020 season and is one of the few players to remain from last year’s panel. Devine claims he will be a key member of his new-look 2019 team and the defender is hoping to hit the ground running given his injury-stricken campaign last year.
“It was demoralising to miss so much of last season, it was heartbreaking. I had my surgery the night before the final and when I watched them win it was a case of mixed emotions. I was buzzing for the boys and Kenny (Shiels) and the staff but I was heartbroken that I couldn't help the team out and I had played every other round. I was still happy to get my winners' medal though."
Watching from the sidelines hurt, particularly given the Candy Stripes went into freefall in the final stretch of the season.
"I'm a fan of the club myself," stressed McDermott. "I grew up supporting Derry City and I could feel how the fans were feeling. Things just didn't go our way and there was too much inconsistency at the end of the year. We were lucky there were two other teams below us who were in a lot more trouble than us because things could've been a lot worse."
He admits he regrets not going for the operation on his hip last January and was playing at just 40 per cent of his capabilities until he had no choice but to go under the surgeon's knife in early September.
"To be fair to the staff we did talk about getting the surgery done at the start of the year and looking back, we should've done that. But I just wanted to play matches.
"I didn't want to miss six months at the start of the season. I thought I could manage it and get through it. Halfway through the season I realised it was a bad idea. I played on an extra few months but I was playing at 40 per cent of myself. But I’ve got this season to put things right and get a good year under my belt and see what happens.”