Derry City's tried and tested recipe for success

​MICHAEL Duffy's relationship with Pat Hoban at Dundalk was a key ingredient in the Lilywhites' 2018 and 2019 league title victories and it's a well tested recipe which could be pivotal in ensuring Derry City is in the mix for 2024 honours.
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​The pair linked up well to supply goals for each other during those two particularly fruitful seasons as Hoban returned to Oriel Park in 2018 and netted 29 league goals while Duffy picked up the PFAI Player of the Year award and scored 13 in that double winning campaign.

It's a tried and tested partnership which is sure to reap its rewards should the pair stay fit and in the starting eleven.

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The arrival of Hoban and Daniel Kelly from the Co. Louth club has heightened expectations and Duffy admits the competition for places in those attacking areas in particular to take the performance levels up a notch this year.

Derry City's Michael Duffy celebrates scoring against UCD at the Brandywell. Photo: George SweeneyDerry City's Michael Duffy celebrates scoring against UCD at the Brandywell. Photo: George Sweeney
Derry City's Michael Duffy celebrates scoring against UCD at the Brandywell. Photo: George Sweeney

“We’re competitive throughout the squad and that’s what you want,” said the winger who finished preseason with a well taken brace against his former club at Oriel Park.

Derry are blessed in those wide areas in particular with Kelly, Duffy, Paul McMullan and Ben Doherty all fighting for a starting berth.

“In training every day you’re fighting to make sure you’re starting. No one is a guaranteed starter, but as I said that’s a good thing, because that’s good for the team.“A lot of games in this league are won by substitutes as well, so when you’ve a strong bench and everyone's at it, then that will be good for us this year.”“We know where we let ourselves down at times over the last two years and we’re going to try and build on that this year and hopefully learn from those mistakes.”“We have a very experienced squad and it’s looking brilliant going into this season. We have a lot of winners in our dressing room and we’ll all drive each other on, to being a bit more ruthless and stuff.“Like finishing teams off when we’re on top and we’ll be working on that. Our aim is to hopefully start off the season well and see where that takes us.”

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Expectations have reached a new level and it’s something the players have embraced.

"The expectation has been good since I’ve come back to the club and that’s what you want,” he acknowledged.“We want to win things and I came here to win things; Fats is the same, all the players who have joined, are exactly the same, we want to win stuff.

"Obviously winning the FAI Cup in our first year was brilliant. We’re getting close with the league and that’s our main goal. I know fans are expecting it, we’re expecting it and that’s brilliant, because that’s what we want and that’s what we’re trying to do, but listen it’s going to be tough.“The league is getting tougher every year so we just need to be at it all the time. It’s not just (Shamrock) Rovers now and it certainly isn't going to be a two-horse race. I feel there’s four or five teams who’ll be pushing for the title.“Everyone has strengthened well; all the teams are full-time now, everyone is so fit and they are all well coached. It’s good for the league, as I feel it will be competitive all year round.”

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