Derry City's Ronan Boyce happy expectation levels have risen

Defender Ronan Boyce wants to improve on his breakthrough season at Derry City and admits he can’t wait to get going again.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 5:10 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd January 2022, 5:12 pm
Derry City's Ronan Boyce fires home a late winner at Sligo Rovers, last season. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

The 20-year-old, who was selected in the PFAI Team of the Year, knows that expectation levels on both him and Derry City have risen significantly and claims he won’t allow his standards to slip after last season’s success.

Boyce, who made 36 appearances, scoring seven goals and chipping in with one assist during the 2021 campaign, feels Ruaidhri Higgins’ new-look squad will be aiming to be challenging for honours this year.

“There’s probably a bit of expectancy on me now, which is good and that’s what you want,” he insisted.

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“Last year no one probably knew who I was so, yeah, this year people will probably recognise me a wee bit. The expectation levels are going to be up, but I’m going to look forward to that.

“You want expectation levels to be high and you want the pressure on you because Derry is obviously a big club and because of that we want to be trying to win every single game and be up there challenging for things and that will be the aim now.”

The Donegal man believes that having added League of Ireland Premier Division title winners Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Cameron Dummigan to their squad and a host of other new arrivals, it can only benefit the Brandywell men who returned to pre-season training this morning.

“I would say close to every position has competition for it and that can only be good for the squad and it can only make us all better,” he explained.

“Healthy competition is always good and it can only bring you on and make you step up your game.

“Personally I think I do have to step it up again, because firstly I have my own standards anyway and I wouldn’t let my own standards drop no matter what happened. But, look, this season especially if you aren’t doing the business now you’ll not be playing. It’s as simple as that.

“Most of our new signings have been there and done it in terms of winning things and hopefully at times this season we’ll need that experience, because obviously if you have boys like that and you are challenging for things, then those boys will probably come to the fore more than others and I’m sure they’ll help everybody around them to try and achieve that goal.

“My goal next season is to play every game possible. It’s very exciting times at Derry coming into the new season. The signings we have made with (Patrick) McEleney and (Michael) Duffy coming home, there has obviously been a lot of big talk about that but, as I said, it’s all very exciting and I’ll do my best to be a part of it every Friday night.”

Boyce, who was rewarded with a three-and-a-half year deal midway through last season and having started out as a centre-back during his youth team days before becoming a regular right-back last year, the Ramelton native doesn’t mind what position he plays.

“I have been following my own programme at the minute down here in Donegal, but I think everyone is looking forward to pre-season and we are all chomping at the bit, I know I’m itching to get back in,” he stated.

“I know it has probably been a shorter off season than usual, but I’m still chomping to get back.

“I don’t mind what position I’m playing as long as I’m in the team. I played wing-back and right-back and left sided centre-half a few games last season and to be honest I did feel comfortable in all of them.

“To be honest I don’t really have a preference at the minute. I have been a centre-half all my life until probably last season when I started at right-back, but now I don’t really mind where I play, just as long as I’m in the team.

“I was comfortable playing in all of those positions and I think playing wing-back will only help me going forward in my career, but I would class myself as a defender first and foremost, but I’m definitely trying to add a few things to my game where I’m looking to improve.

“I’ll be looking to add a few more strings to my bow, by getting a few goals and assists next season.”

The former Swilly Rovers youth team player, who like Jack Malone, Evan McLaughlin and Patrick Ferry have come through the ranks at Derry, feels the youth set-up will continue to produce players for the first team.

“The youth structure is still paying off at the club bigtime,” he said. “Paddy McCourt, Mark McChrystal, Shaun Holmes and Gerald Boyle are all putting a lot of work into the underage.

“Boys like Mo Mahon and Donal O’Brien and all the youth coaches and they are all doing a great job, but then it’s up to us boys whenever we do get the chance that we take it.

“Derry is known throughout the years for bringing through players, so that’s very good and it’s going well.”