It's just business for Declan Devine as Bohs boss plots victory over Derry City

​DECLAN Devine insists there's no added incentive to beat Derry City other than the three points at stake as the Bohemians boss prepares to host his former employers at Dalymount Park.

​The Creggan man admits it will always feel 'strange' plotting to get one over his hometown club from the opposition dugout.

And yet the two-time Derry City manager insists there's no emotion involved as he goes head-to-head with his Brandywell successor once again.

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"It's always going to be strange," he admitted. "Just under 20 years of my life have been involved with Derry but I'm really enjoying the challenge of managing another massive club."

He quickly dismissed suggestions the opposition and his history with Derry may provide additional stimulus for a win.

"Absolutely not," he replied. "There's no extra incentive. It's never about who the opponents are, it's about what we have and what we can bring and how we can play to our strengths."

Devine, who was replaced by Ruaidhri Higgins in April 2021, came out on top on his Brandywell homecoming last month as Dean Williams' controversial penalty decided a drab encounter to stretch Bohs' lead at the top to six points.

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Four weeks on and the Dubliners remain perched on top but their lead has been slashed to a single point after a 2-0 loss to second placed Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght last weekend while Derry are lurking just three points behind in third.

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins greets Bohemian manager Declan Devine at the Brandywell last month. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2315GS – 99Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins greets Bohemian manager Declan Devine at the Brandywell last month. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2315GS – 99
Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins greets Bohemian manager Declan Devine at the Brandywell last month. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2315GS – 99

So there's much at stake in Phibsborough and Devine anticipates an encounter which is certain to 'whet the appetite as two 'historic' clubs clash at the north Dublin venue.

"It definitely should whet the appetite," said the Bohs boss. "It's two massive clubs, historic clubs and two clubs that like to play the brand of football that we're playing.

"It's two hugely supported clubs but it will come down to the 90 minutes. I'm really looking forward to it, we all are."

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Derry's form on the road has been exceptional this term as they remain unbeaten, having won 17 points from a possible 21 including wins in Tallaght, Tolka Park and Weavers Park.

Bohs' home form, however, has been equally as impressive.

"We've played some really good stuff at Dalymount this year," added Devine. "Our last game beating Cork 5-0 was a big plus for us and gave the players confidence.

"The supporters have been fantastic and I know Derry will bring a big crowd down as they always do so it has all the makings of another cracking game.

"I think we cancelled each other out to a certain degree in the Brandywell. It was a bit of a drab affair with limited chances in the game.

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"You don't know what way it will pan out but I fully expect two teams to have a good go at each other tomorrow night.”

Games between the two teams at Dalymount have been exciting affairs in recent times and Devine expects no different on this occasion.

“I've been very impressed by Derry this year. I think they'll come down and do what Derry do. They're confident in their ability, they have players who can win games with a bit of magic, namely Michael Duffy and Ryan Graydon.

"I fully expect Derry to come and have a go at us and I fully expect us to be able to stand and have a go back. It certainly has the makings of a very good game."

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“They like to switch play a lot and try hurt teams down the sides. Ben Doherty is having an outstanding season but we'll have a few things as well that we want to try and bring to the game.”

Devine has immersed himself in Dublin since his appointment, making the required sacrifice to live away from his wife Ciara and three kids but he's relishing the challenge to take Bohemians back to the top.

"I'm really enjoying the freedom I'm getting to do my job in terms of building a squad, a backroom team, building the club into a team capable of challenging for major honours.

"Whether that comes short term or longer term, I'm really enjoying the process.

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“I've been made very, very welcome and every day I make sure we come into work and we're fresh and everyone is enjoying it.

"At the same time we know we have to continue to work hard and continue to set the standards that we're setting.

"This league is an unforgiving league. You could be going great for a month and then the next month you can't win a game. So we have to make sure we're really focused on what we're trying to do.”

With the new ‘Mono’ stand adding to the atmosphere and matchday experience at Dalymount, Devine expects an absorbing encounter.

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“All in all it has the makings of a fantastic game. This game has been sold out from a Bohs fans perspective for weeks.

"All our next four or five home games have been sold out but to see the travelling fans in the Mono stand, it'll certainly add to the occasion.

"The stand makes a lot of noise, it carries a lot of noise. Before at Dalymount there was only one side, then two but now there's noise off three sides so it should make for a really good atmosphere.”

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