James Akintunde hails Derry City's 'close knit' dressing room and healthy competition

JAMES Akintunde emerged as the match winning hero at Dalymount Park but admits he's prepared to work in the shadows as long as Derry City's impressive start to the season continues.

By Simon Collins
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 11:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 11:26 pm
James Akintunde in action against Dundalk on the first day of the season. He proved the match winner against Bohemians in dramatic fashion on Friday night.
James Akintunde in action against Dundalk on the first day of the season. He proved the match winner against Bohemians in dramatic fashion on Friday night.

Ruaidhri Higgins described the former Cambridge United striker as a 'real team player' and Akintunde agreed the team's fortunes come before any individual at the Brandywell club, claiming the 'healthy competition' for places has served the team well.

Akintunde has been involved in all seven of Derry's opening matches but has come off the bench in four of those fixtures. He's quite happy to play whatever hand he's dealt by the manager and believes the nature of Derry's 'close knit' squad has been key to their early season success.

"We've got a really good competitive team and it's always good to have healthy competition. No matter if I'm starting or not, it's always great to get a goal. The boys are amazing and it's just good to be part of the team.

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"We've got some class players. When you're on the bench it's all about egging the boys on. There's no bad eggs in this team which is really good so whether you're starting or not, we're all part of the same team and everyone is pushing everyone else on. So when you come on it's just about taking your chance."

He certainly took his chance when Cameron McJannet swung a pinpoint cross onto his head in the 93rd minute on Friday night but despite his match winning header - a rarity by his own admission - he wasn't afforded the luxury of sitting out an extensive warm-down on the Dalymount pitch for those players who had limited game-time after the match. And was then instructed to fulfil his media duties on a freezing cold night in Phibsborough.

"It's always good to get a last minute win,"he smiled. "You can see with the boys, they've got a good spirit and good mentality to keep driving. We didn't start the way we wanted to start but in the second half we came out of the traps and got two goals in the second half.

"Fats came on and was absolutely amazing and so was Matty Smith so credit to the boys who didn't start they kind of changed the game for us.

"We're not just a team that comes in and trains and goes home. We're a very close knit team and you can see the togetherness.

"Coming away from home is never easy but every game we try to win and we're buzzing with the three points."

Derry face another trip to Dublin to take on bottom of the table UCD in the Belfield Bowl on Monday night and Akintunde is hoping to keep the momentum and extend their unbeaten run to eight matches.

"Getting three points against Bohs puts us in a good position going into the next one but the boys will stay level headed and take each game as it comes and have that same determination and drive as every other game. Monday will be a tough game but we need to go there and perform the way we've always been performing."

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