EOGHAN STOKES revealed that Derry City Football Club came highly recommended to him by several of his ex-Bohemians teammates.
The 22 year-old former Leeds United forward impressed Declan Devine when the Derry boss was a pundit at pitchside for RTE in the Dublin derby in Tallaght last August as Stokes grabbed the winner for Bohs in front of 4,150 fans.
Devine believes the player has a ‘bright future’ in the game and was delighted to snap him up in a deal which quickly gathered pace over the last few days following a meeting in the CityNorth Hotel on the outskirts of Dublin.
And while the City supremo gave Stokes the big sell when unveiling his plans for the club, it was the advice from three former Derry players which helped seal the deal.
Former fans’ favourite at Brandywell, Keith Ward, Rob Cornwall and Paddy Kavanagh, who all spent time on Foyleside over recent seasons, gave their seal of approval on the city when Stokes told them he was considering a switch.
“I’m delighted it’s finally done so I can get into training and start the campaign next week, hopefully it will be a good one,” said the Dubliner.
“I’ve been at Bohs last year and have a few mates who have been up here playing at Derry. They couldn’t talk highly enough about everything about the club, the facilities and the city itself seems great. Anyone I’ve talked to about the city has said it was a great spot so I’m looking forward to it.
“Wardy and Paddy Kavanagh were up here and Rob Cornwall was here too and those lads said they loved it.”
Stokes, who can operate as a No. 10, from a wide position or in midfield, was recently contemplating a move to Portugal and spent time on trial with Boavista in the Portuguese top flight during the League of Ireland off-season.
A former Republic of Ireland U19 international, Stokes had his contract with Leeds United terminated by mutual consent in February 2018 having made just one first team appearance in a Carabao Cup clash against League Two side Newport County.
He felt it was time to move on after growing frustrated with the lack of first team opportunities and the constant chopping and changing of managers at Elland Road which, he felt, hampered his development.
Stokes made an instant impact when signing for Bohemians, scoring in his second appearance in a 1-1 draw against Limerick. In total he scored five times in 31 league appearances for the Gypsies last season.
And now he’s hoping he can have a bigger impact with the Candy Stripes and help push the club back into contention for the European places.
“I scored five goals in the league and had three or four in the cups so hopefully I can score more goals up here and we can have a good season and push as far as we can, maybe get Europe or see how we go.
“I was in Boavista for 10 days and it was an enjoyable experience. It’s a massive club but the circumstance just didn’t suit me at the minute. But it’s good to be here now.
“I met Declan and listened to what he had to say about the club and how it was going and it really impressed me. Over the last few days we got in contact and tried to get the deal done as quickly as we could.”
For his part, Devine believes he has a player who will excite the fans.
“He’s a very talented boy. He was very unfortunate not to still be at Leeds United. I was impressed by him last year having watched him numerous times with Bohemians and he will add a lot of attacking qualities moving forward.
“He’s a player who I feel will also excite the people in the Brandywell and is a player who I feel has a very bright future ahead of him.
“He’s proven himself last year by scoring very important goals. You don’t get much bigger than Dublin derbies live on TV and for Eoghan to get one of the goals against Shamrock Rovers last year is only part of what he brings to the table.”